Today, U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio), a member of the Senate Budget Committee, added an amendment to the Democratic budget being debated before the committee to create a deficit-neutral reserve fund for legislation that would reduce redundancy, improve access, and enhance outcomes within federal job training programs.
"With unemployment hovering too high for comfort at 7.7 percent, the federal government's network of job training programs is falling short. We need meaningful job training reform that responsibly harnesses precious taxpayer dollars to more effectively serve those 20 million Americans who are currently looking for full-time work," said Portman. "The federal government must do a better job preparing a new wave of American workers, which is why I plan to re-introduce the CAREER Act this Congress to help ensure that federal job training programs are better organized and more responsive to both the needs of workers and the demands of industry, and to ensure better performance by incentivizing more accountability and transparency among job training programs. This amendment to create a deficit-neutral reserve fund will further enhance my efforts to better prepare today's workforce for tomorrow and connect the unemployed with good jobs while more effectively leveraging taxpayer dollars."
Last Congress, Portman and Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO) introduced the bipartisan Careers Through Responsive, Efficient, and Effective Retraining (CAREER) Act, legislation to help ensure that the workforce is equipped today with industry recognized credentials that are relevant in a rapidly changing workplace. Portman worked side-by-side with Ohio's community educators, employers, and students to come up with ways to improve job training programs, and his bill takes several commonsense, bipartisan steps to address inefficiency in the current system, furnish participants with the skills needed by employers, and incentivize better performance among training providers.
According to the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the federal government operates 47 employment and job training programs across nine federal agencies. Forty-four of these federal employment and training programs overlap with at least one other program. Together, these programs spent approximately $18 billion on employment and training services in fiscal year 2009, according to GAO's survey data. This is an increase of three programs and about $5 billion from GAO's 2003 report.
According to GAO, little is known about the effectiveness of the employment and training programs GAO identified because only five programs reported demonstrating whether outcomes can be attributed to the program through an impact study, and about half of all the programs have not had a performance review since 2004.