Casey began the Jobs Initiative premised on the value that disadvantaged people should be able to work their way out of poverty. While the federal Workforce Investment Act (WIA) was premised on the same values, it falls short of realizing such outcomes. This policy brief presents lessons learned and WIA recommendations from Casey's work.
56% of Jobs Initiative participants had reported annual family incomes of $9,000 or less; 53% were single parents with children living at home.
Job Training Rocks
Job training proved to be a very effective strategy for increasing placement, wages and improving advancement potential.
65% of initiative participants interviewed in a follow-up study were working 18 months after enrollment compared to 25% at the time of enrollment.
The Jobs Initiative found that the job has to work for the family, not just the individual.
Statements & Quotations
Sites that emphasized an individually tailored approach including a mix of job readiness, soft skills training, skill training, job placement and job retention/support services had better retention rates than the one site that emphasized job search alone.
The Jobs Initiative sites have demonstrated the feasibility and efficacy of offering quality training for available jobs, which pay decent wages and provide real opportunities for advancement.
As the Workforce Investment Act was being written, the Annie E. Casey Foundation Jobs Initiative was already several years into implementing systems that shared many of the legislation’s goals. It is working closely with employers and workers to create workforce development systems that work for the most disadvantaged workers.
By increasing funding for training and state flexibility, holding states accountable to employment retention and earnings outcomes and clarifying language to support WIA’s original intentions, the legislation could be more effective in accomplishing its goals to create a workforce development system that works.
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