The significant changes to American welfare policy enacted by the Clinton administration’s Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996, which limited the amount of time someone could receive government assistance and also encouraged recipients to find jobs, may have also decreased the chance that women would obtain vocational training.
According to a study released earlier this week by the National Bureau of Economic Research:
Welfare reform reduced enrollment in full-time vocational education and had no significant effects on part-time vocational education or participation in other types of work-related courses. We find no evidence that the previously-observed negative effects of welfare reform on formal education (including college enrollment), which we replicated in this study, have been offset by increases in vocational education and training.
In reducing the amount of time recipients could spend receiving public assistance, the reforms under the law reduced full-time college enrollment among those receiving aid. But despite theoretical (and very real) money available for workforce training, it doesn’t appear that women have accessed more vocational jobs training courses since traditional welfare ended 15 years ago.