Learning to Work

Learning to Work: The Case for Reintegrating Job Training and Education

W. Norton Grubb
Copyright Date: 1996
Published by: Russell Sage Foundation
Pages: 164
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  • Book Info
    Learning to Work
    Book Description:

    "Grubb's powerful vision of a workforce development system connected by vertical ladders for upward mobility adds an important new dimension to our continued efforts at system reform. The unfortunate reality is that neither our first-chance education system nor our second-chance job training system have succeeded in creating clear pathways out of poverty for many of our citizens. Grubb's message deserves a serious hearing by policy makers and practitioners alike." -Evelyn Ganzglass, National Governors' Association

    Over the past three decades, job training programs have proliferated in response to mounting problems of unemployment, poverty, and expanding welfare rolls. These programs and the institutions that administer them have grown to a number and complexity that make it increasingly difficult for policymakers to interpret their effectiveness.Learning to Workoffers a comprehensive assessment of efforts to move individuals into the workforce, and explains why their success has been limited.

    Learning to Workoffers a complete history of job training in the United States, beginning with the Department of Labor's manpower development programs in the1960s and detailing the expansion of services through the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act in the 1970s and the Job Training Partnership Act in the 1980s.Other programs have sprung from the welfare system or were designed to meet the needs of various state and corporate development initiatives. The result is a complex mosaic of welfare-to-work, second-chance training, and experimental programs, all with their own goals, methodology, institutional administration, and funding.

    Learning to Work examines the findings of the most recent and sophisticated job training evaluations and what they reveal for each type of program. Which agendas prove most effective? Do their effects last over time? How well do programs benefit various populations, from welfare recipients to youths to displaced employees in need of retraining? The results are not encouraging. Many programs increase employment and reduce welfare dependence, but by meager increments, and the results are often temporary. On average most programs boosted earnings by only $200 to $500 per year, and even these small effects tended to decay after four or five years.Overall, job training programs moved very few individuals permanently off welfare, and provided no entry into a middle-class occupation or income.

    Learning to Workprovides possible explanations for these poor results, citing the limited scope of individual programs, their lack of linkages to other programs or job-related opportunities, the absence of academic content or solid instructional methods, and their vulnerability to local political interference. Author Norton Grubb traces the root of these problems to the inherent separation of job training programs from the more successful educational system. He proposes consolidating the two domains into a clearly defined hierarchy of programs that combine school- and work-based instruction and employ proven methods of student-centered, project-based teaching. By linking programs tailored to every level of need and replacing short-term job training with long-term education, a system could be created to enable individuals to achieve increasing levels of economic success.

    The problems that job training programs address are too serious too ignore.Learning to Worktells us what's wrong with job training today, and offers a practical vision for reform.

    eISBN: 978-1-61044-257-2
    Subjects: Business, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Abbreviations
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Preface and Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
    W. Norton Grubb
  5. Chapter 1 The Separation of Job Training from Education
    (pp. 1-8)

    Since the 1960s, the institutions in the United States that educate and train people for employment have grown in number and complexity. High schools, the traditional locus of vocational education, still provide some job-specific education, but increasingly vocational education takes place in postsecondary institutions, including community colleges, technical institutes, and area vocational schools. The development of job training programs, first through manpower programs during the 1960s and then under the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act (CETA) during the 1970s and the Job Training Partnership Act (JTPA) during the 1980s, added to the number of programs, as have job training programs...

  6. Chapter 2 The Nature of Job Training Programs
    (pp. 9-16)

    Several different strands of development have created the current “system” of training programs—in reality, a nonsystem with a bewildering variety of purposes, services, and funding. One strand began with manpower programs established in 1962 in response to the recession of 1960–61. The Manpower Development Training Act (MDTA) of 1962 established training programs administered by the Department of Labor and separate from federal support of vocational education.¹ An independent funding mechanism for programs outside the schools was established in part because of the poor reputation of vocational education and in part because of a general feeling that secondary schools...

  7. Chapter 3 The Methodology of Job Training Evaluations
    (pp. 17-26)

    The first round of job training programs, those begun in the 1960s under the Manpower Development Training Act, were evaluated with less sophisticated methods than are now standard. (See table 4.1 and the associated discussion.) Effectiveness was very much an issue when job training programs were consolidated in the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act in 1973 because of suspicions that many of the manpower training programs of the 1960s were not especially effective. The CETA program therefore generated a huge number of evaluation documents that take up literally several yards of shelf space (summarized in Taggart, 1981). The quantitative evaluations...

  8. Chapter 4 The Effectiveness of Job Training Programs: Overall Outcomes
    (pp. 27-61)

    The large number of evaluations of job training programs performed since the 1970s makes it difficult to summarize them in ways that convey both their findings in a literal sense and the practical importance of the findings. In many cases, job training programs have had statistically significant effects, or benefits that outweigh costs, and therefore appear to be worth doing, but the effects have been so small that they have little real influence on the courses of people’s lives, the continuing need for welfare programs, or the future development of those enrolled in youth programs. To convey the findings, I...

  9. Chapter 5 The Effectiveness of Job Training Programs: Specific Outcomes
    (pp. 62-90)

    The discussion in chapter 4 of the effects of job training programs leaves unanswered a number of detailed questions, particularly about the variation in outcomes that are effectively averaged in (and therefore masked by) the overall effects of job training programs. In this chapter I consider variations in the groups receiving job training, in the services provided, and in the benefits received during different periods of time after enrollment in a program. In addition, the local administration of job training programs has led to substantial differences in the performance of local programs, as revealed by the finding in chapter 4...

  10. Chapter 6 The Modest Effects of Job Training: Alternative Explanations
    (pp. 91-104)

    The results from nearly thirty years of evaluating job training programs are remarkably consistent—surprisingly so, given the variation in the programs supported and the differences in the methods used to evaluate them. Many job training programs lead to increased earnings, and the benefits to society generally outweigh the costs. However, the increases in earnings, moderate by almost any standards, are insufficient to lift those enrolled in such programs out of poverty. Welfare-to-work programs also increase employment and reduce the amount of welfare payments received, but they rarely allow individuals to leave welfare. Furthermore, any benefits probably fade after four...

  11. Chapter 7 Reintegrating Education and Job Training
    (pp. 105-122)

    How might job training programs be improved? Drawing on the explanations for the ineffectiveness of job training programs outlined in chapter 6, one tactic might be to make each component more effective. That is, programs need to examine the quality of job training and improve it; the nature of instruction in basic skills is often very poor, and job training programs need to learn from the education system about appropriate instructional methods; and programs may need to strengthen efforts in assessment, guidance and counseling (or case management), and placement (see, for example, Dickinson, Kogan, and Means, 1994; Dickinson and others,...

  12. Chapter Notes
    (pp. 123-135)
  13. References
    (pp. 136-144)
  14. Index
    (pp. 145-152)