Expanding State Education and Training By Partnering with the Unemployment Insurance Program


In the early years of the 21st century, everyone from corporate leaders to working single parents has come to understand that training and education are vital to America’s competitive standing and the economic prospects of individuals and communities alike. Public opinion polls show consistently strong support for more job training, and the major presidential candidates of both parties have embraced the notion of more robust federal support to help workers earn new skills and advance in their careers.

But even as appreciation and public support for the importance of helping workers and businesses has grown, the financial resources to support education and training have not. Between 2002 and 2007, federal funding under the Workforce Investment Act (WIA)—the country’s guiding legislation for workforce development policy—and other training and employment programs funded through the U.S. Department of Labor, decreased by approximately 20 percent. Funding for related programs administered through other federal agencies, including the U.S. Department of education, similarly has failed to keep pace with the needs of an American workforce that finds itself in increasingly fierce global competition for jobs and compensation. The current economic downturn adds to the urgency to help workers get back on their feet when they lack the skills to compete in today’s economy.


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David Jason Fischer