Friday, October 31st, 2014

The Obameter

Invest in transitional jobs and career pathway programs


"Will invest $1 billion over five years in transitional jobs and career pathways programs that implement proven methods of helping low-income Americans succeed in the workforce. This investment will be coupled with other measures to encourage the private sector and state and local governments to increase their support of these effective employment programs."


Updates

A variety of programs established in several cabinet departments

Job-creation has been a major issue during President Barack Obama's first term.

During the 2008 campaign, Obama promised to "invest $1 billion over five years in transitional jobs and career pathways programs that implement proven methods of helping low-income Americans succeed in the workforce. This investment will be coupled with other measures to encourage the private sector and state and local governments to increase their support of these effective employment programs."

It's important to note that "career pathways” is not a single line item in the budget but rather "an approach to delivering education, training, and supportive services that help low-skilled adults and youth earn marketable credentials and access good-paying jobs,” said Elizabeth Lower-Basch, a policy coordinator and senior policy analyst at the Center for Law and Social Policy, an advocacy group for lower-income Americans.

According to the center, over the past four years, the administration has supported career pathways through competitive grant programs and joint efforts by the Labor, Education, and Health and Human Services departments.

Nearly $2 billion in competitive grants was included in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 and the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010:

Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training Grants, which are designed to help workers affected by foreign trade acquire new skills and credentials.

• The Workforce Innovation Fund, which was designed to improve the design of education and training systems, including implementing a career pathways approach.

Health Profession Opportunity Grants, which are designed to promote career pathways in the health professions for low-income individuals.

The Center for Law and Social Policy says that the Labor, Education, and Health and Human Services Departments have worked together on initiatives to help states learn about and implement career pathways. The agencies hosted a series of Career Pathways Institutes that gave 11 states access to national experts and technical assistance; released a joint public letter to encourage states to align state resources, federal funding and partnerships to support of career pathways. In addition, the Education Department has sponsored Adult Basic Education Career Connections and Policy to Performance, two programs that helped states align education and training systems for specific populations of students and workers, such as adult-education students.

Meanwhile the Education Department has assembled a national blueprint for career and technical education that emphasizes the use of career pathways for both youth and adults. The department recently announced a competitive state policy initiative that will assist five states in aligning career-technical education with career pathways system development efforts.

Administration efforts have been less extensive on transitional jobs, which are designed to help individuals with significant barriers to employment, such as low-income parents and ex-offenders. But there has been some activity, according to the center.

The administration sought and received funding for the Enhanced Transitional Jobs Demonstration.  In 2011, the program awarded roughly $40 million.

And states used $1.3 billion from the Emergency Fund for Subsidized Employment created by the 2009 stimulus.

We rate this a Promise Kept.

Sources:

Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and Center for Law and Social Policy, "Creating Subsidized Employment Opportunities for Low-Income Parents: The Legacy of the TANF Emergency Fund," Feb. 16, 2011

Email interview with Elizabeth Lower-Basch, policy coordinator and senior policy analyst with the Center for Law and Social Policy, Dec. 7, 2012

Transitional jobs, career pathway programs secure funding for 2010

During the presidential campaign, Barack Obama said that his administration would "invest $1 billion over five years in transitional jobs and career pathways programs that implement proven methods of helping low-income Americans succeed in the work force. This investment will be coupled with other measures to encourage the private sector and state and local governments to increase their support of these effective employment programs."

The administration has begun to fund these projects, though not yet at a pace to reach $1 billion over five years.

The appropriations bill signed by the president in December allocated $30 million for transitional jobs activities, which the president's budget had described as combining "short-term subsidized or supported employment with intensive case management services to help populations with barriers to employment succeed in the labor market."

The same bill allocated $125 million for a Career Pathways Innovation Fund, a "competitive grant program for community college-led partnerships to develop or expand career pathway programs," according to the administration. These programs "will have clear sequences of coursework and credentials, each leading to a better job in a high-demand or emerging industry."

Adding these two programs together, you get $155 million, which over five years would equal $775 million if funding were to be kept constant. That's lower than the $1 billion envisioned by this promise, but Obama will have several more years to reach his goal. So we're labeling this promise In the Works.

Sources:

Text of Consolidated Appropriations Act

White House, budget request for the Labor Department, accessed Jan. 11, 2009