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House Panel Approves $6-Billion Training Bill

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Washington--A House subcommittee on federal job-training initiatives has given its approval to a $6-billion program to replace the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act (ceta), which is scheduled to expire this fall.

State education officials have given the bill mixed reviews, however, saying that it "has gone far, but not quite far enough" toward involving them in the development and implementation of the proposed program.

The bill, sponsored by Representative Augustus F. Hawkins, Democrat of California and chairman of the House Subcommittee on Employment Opportunities, would set aside $3.25 billion for employment and training services for youths aged 16 to 21.

The youth programs would be divided into four broad categories: pre-employment skills training, entry-level employment experience, assistance in the school-to-work transition, and a network of "education for employment" learning centers.

The bill, which was approved by the subcommittee on April 1, would also provide $650 million for the Job Corps program for economically dis-advantaged youths, $1 billion in job-retraining funds for permanently laid-off workers, and an additional $1.1 billion for labor-market information, for services to American Indians, migrants, and farm workers, and for a number of other national programs.

John Martin, a lobbyist for the Council of Chief State School Officers, said he was pleased that the subcommittee amended the bill to give local education agencies primary consideration in the operation of the program's classroom components.

Training Activities

Mr. Martin also pointed out that another amendment to the bill would allow states to allocate up to 25 percent of their funds to state education agencies' vocational-education departments to help in the coordination of training activities.

A third amendment, he added, would create state incentive-grant programs for joint agreements between the cities and counties designated as "prime sponsors" of the youth programs and the state and local education agencies.

"We feel that the new bill makes great progress toward creating partnerships between schools and other agencies in the job-training area,'' Mr. Martin said.

State education officials, however, remain concerned about a provision of the bill that directs the U.S. Secretary of Labor to set academic-competency, employment-placement, and retention targets for school-age trainees in the program, according to Anita Epstein, a lobbyist for the National Association of State Boards of Education.

The academic and job-success goals for young program participants, according to the bill, would be used by the Secretary of Labor along with other criteria to judge the effectiveness of local job-training efforts.

State education leaders, Ms. Epstein said, have not been adequately consulted on the setting of these targets. "We are very eager to work with the Department of Labor to help set these goals," she added.

Meanwhile, members of the Senate Subcommittee on Employment and Productivity postponed their detailed consideration of similar job-training legislation until after the spring Congressional recess, which ended yesterday.--T.M.

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