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.