The BBJ Editorial (10/29) states that “Workforce training programs must be transparent, accountable.” We agree! However, the editorial doesn’t acknowledge why many job training programs, even successful ones, don’t place every participant into a job. Sometimes participants are forced to leave training programs not because they are ineffective but because they lose child care, their car breaks down, or maybe they simply cannot afford to not work anymore and so they take a “right now” job to support themselves and their families. Most training programs are full time and do not provide a stipend or wage during the program.
We have been underinvesting in workforce training for decades. Yet we expect programs to serve people with high barriers to employment: criminal records, low education or skill levels, low proficiency in English. If we want to ensure state funded training programs are meeting the needs of employers then we must commit to investing in these programs in the short and long-term. Through ARPA we have the opportunity to upskill more people and provide the wrap around supports that keep people on the road to success. At the end of the day it is about more than numbers, it is about providing opportunities for economic mobility.
Kathie Mainzer, Executive Director, Workforce Solutions Group
Tonja Mettlach, Executive Director, Massachusetts Workforce Association
The image above, excerpted from Commonwealth Corporation’s “WCTF: Who Do We Serve,” illustrates how from 2013 through 2018, the Workforce Competitiveness Trust Fund, now known as the Kenneth J. Donnelly Workforce Success Grants, have served 1,321 unemployed and underemployed individuals from a variety of underserved backgrounds. These individuals would likely not have been able to re-enter the labor market without the training, skills, and support provided by the sector partnerships WCTF funds.