President after President has called for the need for job training programs paid for with your tax dollar. And Congress has complied. Billions have been spent over the years, so let’s review our “progress“.
In 1962 Congress passed the Manpower Development and Training Act. Although the program appeared to have a significant impact,
the General Accounting Office (GAO) discovered that any trainee in this program who held a job for a single day was counted as ‘permanently employed’—a statistical charade by the Department of Labor to camouflage its lack of results.
Next, in 1973, we got the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act. It spent much more than its predecessor, and was most notable for,
paying to build an artificial rock for rock climbers, providing nude sculpture classes…, and conducting door-to-door food-stamp recruiting campaigns.
Reacting to that farce, in 1982 Congress passed the Job Training Partnership Act.
JTPA spent lavishly—to expand an Indiana circus museum, teach Washington taxi drivers to smile, provide foreign junkets for state and local politicians, and bankroll business relocations. According to the Labor Department’s inspector general, young trainees were twice as likely to rely on food stamps after JTPA involvement than before since the “training” often included instructions on applying for an array of government benefits.
When the details of that program came to light, in 1998 Congress treated us to the Workforce Investment Act. That program can’t really be graded yet because, although the act specifies that the Department of Labor must report its progress before 2005, the Department of Labor tells us that it will not be able to do so until 2015.
Recently, as part of President Obama’s Stimulus Act yet another job training program was invented.
And so young men and women used puppets to greet aquarium visitors in Boston. Teens in Washington, D.C.’s Green Summer Jobs Corps maintained ‘school-yard butterfly habitats.’ And summer workers in Florida, the Orlando Sentinel reported, ‘practiced firm handshakes to ensure that employers quickly understand their serious intent to work.’
Meanwhile, we now know, thanks to a report earlier this year from the General Accountability Office,
that there were 47 different federal employment and training programs, costing taxpayers $18 billion a year. There is massive overlap and duplication, and few programs seriously evaluate their impact on trainees.
In spite of this, President Obama is calling for more job training programs in his new American Jobs Act, a/k/a, Son of Stimulus.
Here is a better idea, Mr. President. Why don’t we fix any one of the programs we currently have, and make sure that the Department of Labor has nothing to do with it. Their 50 year track record seems to leave a bit to be desired.