Seeking Some Clarity, Finding Facts Missing

The California Workforce Association offers a response to the New York Times Article published 8/17/14 titled "Seeking New Start, Finding Steep Cost", in order to clarify misconceptions in the piece and provide clarity on the role of the workforce system in relation to job training entities.

Sacramento, CA (PRWEB) August 22, 2014

From the desk of Bob Lanter, Executive Director of the California Workforce Association:

"A New York Times article titled “http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/18/us/workforce-investment-act-leaves-many-jobless-and-in-debt.html” was published on August 17, and as Director of the California Workforce Association it demanded my attention. This article brings to light some very real concerns as it relates to the perils of job training, but very few, if any, of those concerns relate to the workforce system or the Workforce Investment Act, which is called out by name in the subtitle of the column. As CWA Executive Director, with representation from the 49 Workforce Investment Boards in California and numerous stakeholders in the workforce field, I must offer clarity on the relationship between the workforce system and job training entities that this piece does not.

"The article centers around several instances where students paid for training at institutions, then subsequently those people were unable to find work or work related to the training just completed. The cost of training ran these students into heavy debt, which further stressed their already strained financial situation.

"By singling out the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) in the subtitle of the column, the reader is led to believe that there is a direct connection from WIA programs to this expensive training. This is simply not the case.

"The provisions of WIA allow for grants, on average, of approximately $3,000 for those seeking training, and this money does not have to be repaid. The workforce system is not the provider of student loans and has no say in the eligibility of student loan participants. The issue of proper oversight on student loan applications and the issue of overall post-secondary education cost should be dealt with, but WIA programs have no hand in that and should not be tied into those issues.

"There are many lower-cost options available to WIA customers on the Eligible Training Provider List (WIA Requirement), including those from our Community College partners. In cases where WIA customers choose to train with higher-cost options, they often do so because of an unavailability of lower-cost options in the fields of their choice or because the course offers more flexibility in the timing of the training. Customer choice is at the center of the Workforce Investment Act, and though counselors can (and do) coach customers to seek out the best financial options for their situation, oftentimes these customers choose to work with a more expensive option that better fits their sector of choice, or their own life needs.

"It is important to note, however, that WIA programs are effective. Last year, approximately 3 million individuals nationwide received direct services through a WIA-supported program, after which about 60 percent of those individuals were able to find employment.

"Also relevant is that WIA itself has, in the last few weeks, been replaced by a new law called the Workforce Innovation and Opportunities Act (WIOA). In WIOA there is an increased focus in business engagement, regional sector strategies, and job-driven training that will serve to ensure that the connection to business that WIA was founded on is strengthened even further. WIOA codifies into law what the most progressive workforce systems in the country, including those in California, are doing to ensure that job seekers are connected with the jobs businesses need to fill, and develops and scales it up further to grow the system over time.

"We also encourage the New York Times to examine the details of the article called into question. As an example, in our own investigating we discovered that the gentleman from Orange County in the piece was not even enrolled in a WIA program to begin with.

"The workforce system certainly understands and supports efforts to ensure that workers are able to better afford training, and that the training will lead to jobs that employers need to fill. This is at the heart of what the workforce system has worked to accomplish, and is at the heart of the new WIOA legislation, which will help us bring more success stories to job seekers going forward.

"To see examples of workforce success stories from around the country, please go to calworkforce.org."


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