States and Job Training

Why some states are making short-term training free, By Sophie Quinton, May 3, 2017, Stateline: “Community colleges are known for their associate degree programs. But these days, many community colleges award more certificates than degrees. Certificates typically take less than two years to complete and promise to prepare students for entry-level jobs in fields such as medical insurance coding or welding. Now Kentucky and Indiana have created scholarships that would make some certificates tuition-free. The new grants draw inspiration from the free college idea pushed by Democrats like former President Barack Obama and embraced by Oregon, Tennessee and New York. But they’re less focused on reducing soaring tuition prices and more focused on training students for jobs that are sitting open…”

Prisoner Re-entry – Colorado

Homelessness, criminal histories create barriers for those seeking to re-enter Colorado society, By Amelia Arvesen, April 15, 2017, Denver Post: “On paper, Glenn Allan Tefft was sure he qualified for an open position at a Longmont, Colorado, printing plant even with his criminal background. But his spirits were low after he believed he was judged on his appearance during what he thought was a suspiciously brief interview. ‘People won’t even look at you,’ he said a week before the opportunity arose. ‘You can tell I’m homeless.’ Almost 39, a three-time felon who’s been to jail but not prison, Tefft is struggling to defy the odds also faced by 95 percent of the prison population that the Congressional Research Service expects will reintegrate back into the greater community at some point…”

Homelessness in Wisconsin

GOP lawmakers offer legislation to address homelessness, including key council, By Dean Mosiman, April 12, 2017, Wisconsin State Journal: “Following spending initiatives in Gov. Scott Walker’s proposed budget, Republican state lawmakers are offering a series of bills intended to reduce homelessness in Wisconsin, including a high-powered council that’s at or near the top of a key state advocate’s wishlist.  State Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke, R-Kaukauna, and Sen. Alberta Darling, R-River Hills, on Wednesday will offer a legislative package of four bills that would provide new structure to state efforts to reduce and end homelessness, adjust some current programs and test new approaches…”

State TANF Spending

How are states using welfare funding? Often, not to help people work, By J.B. Wogan, October 26, 2016, Governing: “When Congress reformed the nation’s welfare program 20 years ago, it set a new condition for eligibility: Recipients must have a job or be searching for one. But the 1996 reforms also gave states freedom to decide how to spend their federal welfare funding. As a result, many aren’t spending it on programs that directly help people find employment.  Last year, on average, states used less than 10 percent of welfare funding for work-related services, such as subsidized employment, job training, job search assistance and transportation vouchers…”

Job Training and Employment

  • Once jobless and uncounted, eager workers could slow Fed rate hike, By Howard Schneider, October 18, 2016, St. Louis Post-Dispatch: “The crammed-to-capacity parking lot at a job training center in this St. Louis suburb is exhibit A for why the Federal Reserve remains at odds over the health of the U.S. labor market and how quickly interest rates should rise.  Among those in the building on a recent fall day, Joshua Goodson, 23, described his recent work history as a ‘dead end.’ Motivated by the prospect of a firm career foothold, he is now in a program at the Family and Workforce Centers of America that includes both a curriculum in heating and air conditioning installation, and the ‘soft’ social skills needed to keep steady employment…”
  • Nonprofit seeks to fill skills gap of low-income high school graduates, By Akilah Johnson, October 21, 2016, Boston Globe: “Eye contact was made with each visitor, who was greeted with a firm handshake. Pleasantries were exchanged, with a smidgeon of small talk.  But there was also direction and discipline for those Year Up students whose professional attire was deemed a bit too trendy for the buttoned-down business world. It’s these types of behaviors and approaches that the job-training program seeks to teach thousands of disconnected youth…”

Prisoner Re-entry

  • Administration aims to fight crime with job training, By Carrie Johnson and Lori Mack, September 20, 2016, National Public Radio: “The Labor Department will hand out $5 million in grants to fund job centers for people coming out of jails, part of a broader Obama administration initiative to help reduce recidivism, NPR has learned. ‘The earlier you start investing in people who are incarcerated, the better the odds of a successful outcome,’ Labor Secretary Thomas Perez said in an interview…”
  • Michigan tries to counter boomerang effect with prison job training program, By David Eggert (AP), September 27, 2016, Crain’s Detroit Business: “Few states have been more aggressive in releasing inmates and diverting offenders than Michigan, where a decade ago, one out of every 200 people was in prison, and penal costs were beginning to crowd out basic government services. After easing parole policies, the state managed to cut its 51,000-plus prison population by about 18 percent. But costs kept surpassing $2 billion a year, in part because too many freed inmates came back after committing new crimes or violating parole or probation rules. Now Michigan is trying to stop the boomerang effect with a new program that removes soon-to-be-released inmates from the general population and assigns them to an exclusive ‘vocational village’ for job training…”

Youth Unemployment – Chicago, IL

Chicago tackles youth unemployment as it wrestles with its consequences, By Alexia Elejalde-Ruiz, September 1, 2016, Chicago Tribune: “Margo Strotter, who runs a busy sandwich shop in Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood, makes it a point to hire people with ‘blemishes.’  But young people? She sighs and shakes her head.  They often lack ‘the fundamental stuff’ — arriving on time, ironing their shirts, communicating well, taking direction — she said. She doesn’t have time to train workers in the basics, and worries she’s not alone.  ‘We are going to wind up with a whole group of people in their 40s and 50s who can’t function,’ said Strotter, owner of Ain’t She Sweet Cafe.  As Chicago tackles what some have termed a crisis of youth joblessness, it must reckon with the consequences of a failure to invest in its low-income neighborhoods and the people who live there. There aren’t enough jobs, and the young people vying for them are frequently woefully unprepared because of gaps in their schooling and upbringing. The system has pushed them to the back of the hiring line…”

Career Pathways Program – Arkansas

This welfare reform program could be a model to help impoverished college students, By Danielle Douglas-Gabriel,  August 31, 2016, Washington Post: “When Will Bradford enrolled at Northwest Arkansas Community College in January 2015, it had been 15 years since he had stepped foot in a classroom. He had taken a few college classes after high school but dropped out in a matter of weeks.  ‘I just didn’t have the motivation,’ Bradford, 35, recalls. But with two young boys to care for, getting an education took on a new importance, especially if it meant earning more money. Even with his newfound motivation, Bradford was no less intimidated. ‘I was nervous about how much work would be involved and whether I was overdoing it with a full-time job, but a lot of it was just getting back into the school system,’ he said.  Enter Arkansas Career Pathways Initiative, a program funded by the federal welfare program, known as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families or TANF, that provides academic and social services to low-income parents attending state community colleges and technical centers…”

SNAP Job Training Program – Baltimore, MD

New job training program targets food stamp recipients, By Lorraine Mirabella, August 15, 2016, Baltimore Sun: “A new state program aims to help Baltimore residents reduce their dependence on food stamps by training them for jobs that can lead to careers in manufacturing, green construction and health care.  About 260 low-skilled and under-educated people in the city are expected to receive training through a network of six workforce development groups in fiscal year 2017, officials with the state Department of Human Resources announced Monday…”

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance program

States follow Maine in declining federal funds for food stamps, By Alan Bjerga, August 16, 2016, Bangor Daily News: “Food stamp enrollment in the U.S. is declining from record levels, in part because some states are ending benefits earlier than they have to. Seven states, all led by Republicans, have decided this year to end waivers for some able-bodied recipients that were made available in the 2009 federal stimulus bill — even though the benefits are federally funded.  Enrollment in what’s formally known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program is still nearly twice the level it was before the recession. But the most recent data, for May, showed 43.5 million people were receiving food stamps, down 9 percent from a 2012 peak and the fewest since 2010…”

SNAP Employment and Job Training Programs

Missouri selected for SNAP employment and job training project, By Jackie Rehwald, March 2, 2016, Springfield News-Leader: “As Missouri adds stricter job requirements for ‘able-bodied adults’ who receive food stamp assistance, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is stepping in to help the state get better at assisting these people. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced Wednesday that Missouri and nine other states have been selected to take part in SNAP to Skills, a new effort to help state agencies design improved employment and training programs for adults participating in the SNAP program. The goal is to help those people find employment and ultimately move off the SNAP program…”

SNAP and Work Requirements – Wisconsin

15K dropped from food stamp program after not finding work, By Molly Beck, November 29, 2015, Wisconsin State Journal: “Nearly 15,000 people lost access to food stamps in the first three months of a new law that requires some recipients to seek employment, new state data show. The Department of Health Services figures were released to the State Journal after a request under the state’s open records law. The agency subsequently published the data on its website. The 2013-15 state budget created a rule for some recipients of the state’s food stamp program known as FoodShare: If you’re an able-bodied adult without children living at home, you must work at least 80 hours a month or look for work to stay in the program…”

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – Indiana

Many NWI residents at risk of losing food stamps, By Giles Bruce, September 2, 2015, Northwest Indiana Times: “As she input inventory numbers into a computer at her local food bank Tuesday, Gary resident Jessica Lipscomb said she was glad to be out of the house. She’d been out of work for several months. She says she had to quit her last job, in medical billing, because she didn’t have reliable transportation. Then she got a letter from the state earlier this year, saying she would have to find or train for a job if she wanted to keep receiving food stamps. While she hasn’t found employment yet, she participates in job training at the Food Bank of Northwest Indiana, doing data entry there two mornings a week. She gets there by bus…”

SNAP and Employment

Illinois among states to test ways to send food stamp recipients to work, By Mary Clare Jalonick, March 20, 2015, Chicago Sun-Times: “Ten states will test new ways to get food stamp recipients back to work, using Agriculture Department grants aimed at helping some of the 46 million Americans who receive benefits move off the rolls.  The grants come as the Republican Congress is exploring ways to cut the program, which cost $74 billion last year — twice its cost in 2008. Some in the GOP have proposed stricter work requirements as a way to do that…”

SNAP Job Training Requirements – Wisconsin

Job training for food stamps will cost state taxpayers $18 million more through 2017, By Jason Stein, March 3, 2015, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “State taxpayers will pay more than $18 million over the next two years as nearly 130,000 more food stamp recipients in Wisconsin will have to receive job training under a requirement advanced by Gov. Scott Walker.  The extra training costs come as Walker seeks drug testing for some recipients of FoodShare and other welfare programs at more than $500,000 a year. So far on Tuesday, Walker administration officials have provided only partial figures on the cost — or potential savings — associated with the drug testing as the administration briefs members of the Joint Finance Committee…”

Welfare Reform – Ohio

John Kasich’s new coordinated welfare approach to start with teens, young adults, By Robert Higgs, January 20, 2015, Cleveland Plain Dealer: “Gov. John Kasich will propose new approaches for Ohio’s welfare programs in the budget he unveils Monday, targeting teens and young adults as part of an effort to intervene at an early age to stop poverty. The changes would require individual counties, which administer the assistance programs across the state, to designate a lead entity that will be responsible for coordinating help — assistance programs and job training efforts — and matching them to clients…”

Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act

  • House passes job-training bill, clearing for Obama, By Derek Wallbank, July 9, 2014, BloombergLawmakers criticized for a lack of productivity hailed an adult education and job training bill the U.S. House passed yesterday as evidence that Congress can get something done. The bill, which the House cleared for President Barack Obama’s signature on a 415-6 vote, authorizes $58 billion over six years for federal workforce development programs. It eliminates 15 programs still on the books, though most had become dormant in recent years. House lawmakers passed an earlier version of H.R. 803 last year. The Senate, after months of negotiations, passed an amended version in June. . .”
  • Congress is finally doing something about long term unemployment, By Danielle Kurtzelben, July 10, 2014, Vox: “Job training plays a curious role in American politics. On the one hand, nothing is less controversial than calls for a better-skilled workforce. On the other hand, over the years federal training initiatives have attracted a — somewhat deserved — reputation as a backwater of inefficient spending and unaccountable programs. But on Wednesday the notoriously unproductive Congress has passed a compromise Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act. It’s a revamping of the Workforce Investment Act, the Labor Department’s main job training initiative. . .”

Job Corps

Great Society at 50: LBJ’s Job Corps will cost taxpayers $1.7 billion this year. Does it work? By David A. Fahrentold, May 19, 2014, Washington Post: “In the middle of an Oklahoma wildlife refuge — at a campus so remote that buffalo wander in — about 100 young people are taking classes in the hope that the U.S. government can turn their lives around. Given the statistics, most of them will be disappointed. This is the Treasure Lake Job Corps center, an outpost of a job-training program created as part of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s Great Society. The program began with a noble, untested idea: Government could save troubled youths one at a time, taking them in and teaching them a trade. Today, students here learn subjects such as cooking, nursing and plumbing. . .”

States and Job Creation

Governors pitch novel tactics to create jobs, By Pamela M. Prah, February 10, 2014, Stateline: “As the U.S. economy gains strength and states are in their best financial position in years, governors are proposing unconventional tactics to create jobs, especially in health care and high-tech. The approaches range from luring more immigrants to Detroit; making western New York the center for genomic research; to paying off nursing students’ college loans in New Mexico. In crafting their proposals, many governors are trying to respond to a common complaint from employers: They are ready to hire, but can’t find workers with the right skills…”

Unemployment, Job Training and Education

  • Big companies join Obama in initiative to help long-term unemployed, By Peter Baker, January 31, 2014, New York Times: “President Obama has persuaded some of the nation’s largest companies, including Walmart, Apple, General Motors and Ford, to revamp their hiring practices to avoid discriminating against applicants who have been out of work for a long stretch of time. Mr. Obama hosted a group of corporate chief executives at the White House on Friday to highlight those efforts and the use of presidential persuasion to help the jobless find work. In all, White House officials said, about 300 businesses have agreed to new hiring policies, including 21 of the nation’s 50 largest companies and 47 of the top 200…”
  • Obama wants job training revamped, By Jeff Mason, January 31, 2014, Columbus Dispatch: “President Barack Obama promised to overhaul federal job-training programs yesterday on the second leg of a tour intended to highlight his proposals to improve the fortunes of low- and middle-income Americans. Obama traveled to Wisconsin to discuss the efforts to ensure that training programs match up with the demand for jobs. It was part of a trip that will include a stop in Tennessee to discuss education. The trip is a follow-up to Obama’s State of the Union speech on Tuesday, in which he called for greater economic fairness in a nation that is still recovering from the deep 2007-09 recession…”
  • Going back to college at 50, and why it’s a dream come true, By Luisa Deprez and Sandy Butler, January 24, 2014, Bangor Daily News: “When she graduated from Mount Desert Island High School in 1981, Kaloe ‘Kay’ Haslam was the first in her family to earn a high school degree. She took ‘business’ and ‘general’ classes rather than ‘college-bound’ courses. She had no aspirations to go to college, nor was she encouraged. ‘I never thought I could afford it,’ she said. ‘I was one of three in a single-parent family. It was like, ‘This isn’t anything I can afford to do.’ I basically just went to work.’ Her dream at the time was to work in an office. ‘I didn’t even care what I was doing in an office,’ she said. ‘I just wanted to work in an office.’ But living in a high-tourism area, office jobs were not widely available…”
  • Unemployment benefits dominate the agenda, By Ed O’Keefe, January 31, 2014, Washington Post: “Stephanie Ransom is 30, single and the mother of a 3-year-old girl. She has thousands of dollars in credit-card debt and suffers from a rare thoracic disorder that causes severe pain in her neck and shoulders. Last July, Ransom lost the job she’d had for nine years at a parts manufacturer in Walworth, Wis., and has not been able to find another one. That prolonged joblessness has become the defining feature of her life…”