Congress considers cutting job training programs
In recent months, economists throughout the country have been touting the economic recovery. But in Georgia, where many residents are still struggling with debt, unemployment, bankruptcy and foreclosure, that recovery seems slow or even nonexistent. In January, the unemployment rate in Georgia was 10.4 percent, which is well above the federal rate of 9 percent.
So when the U.S. House of Representatives announced that it planned to cut the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) as part of its fiscal 2010 budget cuts, many Georgians cried foul. The WIA provides job skill training and resume assistance for many of the nearly 485,000 unemployed Georgia residents, and advocates say that the training is essential in getting Georgians back to work.
Last year, Georgia received $65.2 million in federal WIA money, in addition to $88 million in federal stimulus money for job training. State agencies have used that money to operate job training centers, which offer classes on computer programming, medical billing, accounting, welding, and truck driving, among others. The Atlanta Regional Commission currently operates seven offices throughout Georgia, which has re-trained over 2,300 people in the state.
Advocates for the training programs state that the programs are essential and effective, leading to full-time work for three out of four participants. According to WIA records, over 27,000 Georgians enrolled in training programs between July 2009 and June 2010. Seven of 10 participants became employed within three months of completing the training program, and over 80 percent were still employed six months later.
But according to the lawmakers proposing the cuts, which include Representative Phil Gingrey of Marietta, the training programs are an ineffective and unaffordable expense for the federal government. Current federal funding for WIA programs runs out in July.
Source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “Job training in crossfire of deficit battles”, Dan Chapman, 4 March 2011