The Workforce and Its Needs

In preparation for next year’s renewal of the Workforce Investment Act, the federal job training law, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Vocational and Adult Education is soliciting comments from citizens. Yesterday about 50 people came to Washington, most urging congress to consider greater alignment between the work and education programs. According to an article in the Chronicle of Higher Education:

One recommendation echoed by several speakers was better alignment between federal education and labor programs. Job seekers who receive occupational training are not always referred to adult-education services, such as courses in basic reading, writing, and mathematics.

Linking work-force development and adult basic education would provide people with an opportunity for dual enrollment, which could greatly enhance their prospects for employment, work-force advocates said.

According to the article, “job seekers who receive occupational training are not always referred to adult-education services, such as courses in basic reading, writing, and mathematics.” This is the case even though they might very much benefit from these services. At the same time people interested in the Workforce Investment Act were worried about basic adult education, the Seattle Times had an editorial urging President Obama to focus on community colleges as the driver of economic renewal. A report earlier this year by CQ Researcher warned that the United States does not have training programs in place to prepare Americans for skilled jobs that do not require a bachelor’s degree. This seems a rather obvious case for people to work together to solve a problem.

According to the article in Inside Higher Ed about the meeting yesterday, Martha Kanter, undersecretary at the Department of Education (and a dear friend of the for-profit school) explained to those in attendance that the Department of Education and the Department of Labor, while often disparaged for their unwillingness to work together, “ are enjoying a good working relationship under the Obama administration.”

No one from the Department of Labor attended the meeting.

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer