Developing a Business-Driven Employment and Training System
The purpose of a national employment and training system is to help increase opportunities for individuals to prepare for and find employment and to provide investment in an educated, skilled, and adaptable workforce able to meet the needs of employers.
The current employment and training system consists of numerous (often overlapping) programs throughout the federal government involving multiple federal agencies, each with separate rules and regulations. Typically these individual programs focus on targeted populations such as displaced workers, welfare recipients, and economically disadvantaged individuals. For many of these individuals, the services provided are often a critical, and a last-chance opportunity to reconnect to the workforce. However, the confusion and bureaucracy of the current system hampers the ability for these individuals to receive the services they need and deters employers from wanting to participate in meaningful ways.
Efforts must be made to create a more rational employment and training system based upon the following principles:
- Non-Duplicative and Flexible: To avoid costly duplication, efforts must be made to streamline federal employment and training programs. In addition, there must be local flexibility in overseeing and administering programs to maximize efficiencies in the delivery of services and for targeting services to meet local needs. Flexibility should also be provided in the types of services provided, such as enabling the provision of incumbent working training based upon career ladder progression or retention and the use of technology as a strategy to leverage increased learning. Also, training needs to be future focused and concentrate on transferable skills and lifelong learning.
- Employer Driven: To be relevant and viable, the employment and training system must be driven by the actual needs of employers based upon accurate and timely local labor market data.
- Market Oriented: Actual employment and training services should be offered in a fully competitive environment. Business and training organizations, community based organizations, private and for-profit training providers, community colleges and other organizations should all have the opportunity to compete for the ability to provide services. Eligibility to compete should be based on performance in meeting employer needs for qualified, employable persons and on conformance with professional standards for employment and training programs. Program design must concentrate on the development of useful and demonstrated skills and assure assimilation of the trainee directly into the workplace. Individual trainees should have maximum choice among the eligible employment and training providers offered.
- Accountable: Performance should be developed to measure the effectiveness of the system in meeting both the employment needs of individuals as well as the workforce needs of employers and should also reflect the effectiveness of the local public-private partnerships that comprise the employment and training system.
Testimony on "New Innovations and Best Practices Under the Workforce Investment Act"
U.S. Chamber testimony before the House Subcommittee on Higher Education, Lifelong Learning, and Competitiveness.
February 12, 2009