In a testimony before the U.S. House Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies, Ray Uhalde, Workforce/Education Policy vice-president at Jobs for the Future, cited research by Drs. Chris King and Daniel Schroeder and Ray Marshall Center researchers to affirm the positive impacts of the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) and urge Congress in its reauthorization. The report Net Impact Estimates for Services Provided through the Workforce Investment Act, published by the Ray Marshall Center in 2005, showed that individuals receiving WIA services experienced improved outcomes for employment and earnings.
Congress, faced with the difficult challenge to reduce the deficit, is considering drastically reducing funding to many employment and training program. One major consideration seeks to carry-over unspent workforce program funding from 2011 into the next program year and eliminate new funding for the 2012 program year. Uhalde warns that the assumption that carry-over funding will be substantial and sufficient enough to continue WIA programs is inaccurate because it fails to recognize obligated funds, or funds that are unspent because they are set aside to continue individual’s multi-semester training. In other words, the funds carried over can support existing participants in workforce programs but there will be no funding to support new participants.
As debates in Congress continue regarding WIA reforms and reauthorization, Uhalde highlights innovations and improvements since 1998 that deliver enhanced outcomes for both jobseekers and employers in today’s competitive economy. These program innovations include emphasis of longer-term high demand training, employer engagement, partnerships with community colleges, sectoral job strategies, mapping of career pathways, and strategies focused at the regional level. These changes have helped to strengthen the services delivered by the workforce development system while also expanding system’s flexibility to better fit today’s dynamic economy.
The Ray Marshall Center has been at the forefront in the implementation and evaluation of these new innovations to add data and information to these policy discussions. In 2008, the Center designed and launched a dual-generation sectoral job strategy in Tulsa for parents of children in Head Start that enables long-term economic self-sufficiency while strengthening educational investments in their children. At the local level, the Center’s researchers have conducted evaluations of short- and long-term workforce training programs in Travis County and provided recommendations for ongoing program improvement. The Center is also leading several research programs to identify and evaluate factors linked to successful transitions from secondary to post-secondary education and onto the labor market.