Unemployed workers gained a needed reprieve earlier this summer when the President signed an extension of unemployment benefits. Those who have lost jobs through no fault of their own and who are seeking employment with ever-increasing urgency will continue to receive this crucial support to help them during these challenging times.
Unemployment benefits are a lifeline for millions. On the other side of the same coin are our federally funded and administered training and employment programs. We know that the vast majority of those who participate in Workforce Investment Act training programs gain employment within a year or less.
That’s why this administration is refocusing job training efforts to give workers the skills they’ll need to compete successfully in a 21st century labor market.
For those who have lost jobs through no fault of their own (also known as dislocated workers), 85 percent who have completed Labor Department-sponsored job training programs have found jobs. But even in a recession, those percentages aren’t good enough. So we are doing more.
We have also invested $500 million in green job training grants through the Recovery Act, for careers in the energy efficiency and renewable energy industries – both expected to grow significantly. We asked these grant recipients to tailor their training programs to meet the needs of occupations and skills identified as “in demand” within their area. This allows us to link job training programs with actual jobs.
In addition, we invested $225 million in health care and high growth training grants, also funded through the Recovery Act. Health care sector jobs have continued to grow throughout this recession, and this growth is expected to continue as America ages.
The Recovery Act allowed us to respond to the recession’s unique circumstances. But we intend to continue to push for reforms that include employers so that we can strengthen the link between training to real jobs.
Job training is more than just preparing for a defined field or career. Taking part in training shows potential employers that a person is serious about their professional development and has the capacity to learn new skills.
There is no doubt that the job market remains challenging, but the bottom line is that training works. Our data clearly indicates that those who participate in Workforce Investment Act Dislocated Worker and Adult training programs get jobs. The workforce investment system is meeting the challenges created by the recent recession and helping dislocated workers enter jobs in promising industries.
Jane Oates is the Assistant Secretary for the Employment and Training Administration. For more information about training programs in your area, visit www.servicelocator.org