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Laura Gilbert: Job training for Americans not a priority for Congress

Yesterday the House Appropriations Committee announced $2 billion in job training cuts for Fiscal Year 2011. Wow. Let me see if I understand.

In October a White House press release announcing President Obama’s Skills for America’s Future initiative stated, “In an increasingly competitive global economy, America’s economic growth and competitiveness depends upon the education and skills of its workers.” The national workforce development initiative was launched to create job training partnerships between labor, federal agencies, community colleges and the private sector in all 50 states.

In 2010 Congress appropriated $2 billion to support capacity-building over the next four years for short-term career training programs in community colleges and other eligible institutions. The first solicitation for grant applications was announced on January 20, 2011.

On July 19, 2010 the House passed the SECTORS Act (Strengthening Employment Clusters to Organize Regional Success Act of 2009) to amend the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 to target job training to current and anticipated skill mismatches.

As the US continued to fall further behind other countries in educated citizenry – a logical concern for long-term competitive viability in a global, knowledge-based economy – Lumina Foundation took the lead with the announcement of their “Big Goal”: to increase the proportion of Americans with high-quality degrees and credentials to 60 percent of Americans by the year 2025. Other organizations followed suit. One early Lumina program will provide $8 million over the next four years to assist select programs and institutions in serving adult learners who have some college credits but have not completed a degree.

The media has added color with stories of jobs going unfilled because of lack of skilled workers (where are these jobs again?) And the situation looks bleaker by 2018 when the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts 5 million jobs will go unfilled as baby boomers leave the workforce and younger workers have not developed the emerging skill sets through job training and higher education.

The list goes on….and on….and on. For as long as I can remember it has been considered a good thing to have a skilled and educated workforce. And it appears the government, corporate American and private foundations agreed. Until yesterday.

So, with millions of capable adults eager to retrain and get back to work; and with literally centuries of data that indicate an employed society is healthier than an unemployed society (physically, socially and economically); and with who-knows-how-much-money spent in the past twelve months researching, developing and launching job training initiatives that are now in jeopardy, the House Appropriations Committee decided, nah.

Wow.

This post was written by Laura Gilbert and originally published on Back To School for Grownups

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Comments (1)

This miserable situation is so mind-boggling that most people can not get their minds around it..... i.e. comprehend it. And we keep getting told we need more people with advanced degrees, but so many that have them, have for years, been unable to find jobs.... in their field... But most "experts" refuse to admit that when confronted with it.