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Job Effort 'Efficient' but Fails Neediest, Analyst Says

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Washington--The "widely proclaimed" success of the government's main job-training program has been "bought at a very high price," the author of a year-long study of the program told a House of Representatives panel last week.

The Job Training Partnership Act has "achieved high placement rates with much lower expenditures," said Gary Orfield, a professor at the University of Chicago, "but this has been the result not of efficiency but of exclusion."

His remarks came in testimony before the Subcommittee on Employment Opportunities, which oversees federal job programs.

Secretary of Labor William E. Brock countered the Orfield statement by saying that in jtpa "we basically have a sound and effective program." Mr. Brock said his department needs to "fine tune" some of the act's provisions, but that "jtpa has fulfilled our expectations with respect to the principles underlying that act."

New Objectives

The jtpa replaced the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act in 1983. Unlike ceta, the jtpa emphasizes training, private partnerships, and state rather than federal control. About half the $3.6 billion allocated in the past two years to the jtpa went to Title IIA programs, which serve disadvantaged workers, and about 40 percent of the money was mandated to help young people between the ages of 16 and 21.

Mr. Orfield, summarizing a University of Chicago study just completed, said the jtpa program "often has nothing of real value to offer those most desperately in need of training," specializing instead in "brief training programs and job-interview workshops for those whose training needs are much less severe and who would be likely to find jobs without special assistance."

Dropouts Not Served

Mr. Orfield said the study--which examined national trends but focused on Illinois--found that ceta at its peak served 30 percent of the jobless in Illinois in a year, while the jtpa reaches only about 10 percent of the jobless.

High-school dropouts in particular have been excluded by the provisions of the act, he said. During the year ending last July, 75 percent of the Illinois participants in Title IIA were high-school graduates, and 85 percent of those enrolled under Title III--which serves dislocated workers--were graduates.

In Chicago, where almost half the students in public high schools drop out, "the great majority of those in training were graduates," he noted. Under ceta, he said, a far higher proportion of dropouts was served.

"Both in Illinois and nationally, the evidence shows a very dismal prospect for jobs and income for8dropouts without training," Mr. Orfield added.

Secretary Brock, however, contended that charges that the jtpa is serving a more advantaged population than ceta did are unfair.

"You can make the charge, but you can't prove it," Mr. Brock said. He maintained that the jtpa program is serving a high number of minority-group members, public-assistance recipients, and women.

Roberts Jones, acting deputy assistant secretary in the employment and training administration branch of the Labor Department, told the subcommittee that the department is studying the short- and long-term outcomes of the program.

According to Mr. Jones, the department is particularly looking at the participants' length of employment in the jobs they are placed in and at their wage-earning experience over a period of time. He said a report on the subject will be issued in the fall.

Rights Enforcement Faulted

Mr. Orfield's study also charged that civil rights are inadequately enforced under the jtpa Nationwide, according to Mr. Orfield's findings, women are almost half as likely as men to receive the most desirable placements, and blacks are less likely to receive on-the-job training. (See Education Week, Sept. 18, 1985.)

"The jtpa is exclusionary at the entrance point, treats people differently inside the training process, and feeds trainees into a discriminatory private labor market," he said.

Mr. Brock noted that the department's office of civil rights is scheduling compliance reviews for the fiscal year 1986 in states whose civil-rights procedures have not been certified. So far, he said, 26 states have been certified as having adequate civil-rights enforcement.

Financial Questions

Mayor Raymond Flynn of Boston, who appeared before the subcommittee on behalf of the United States Conference of Mayors, expressed concern about financial aspects of the jtpa.

Mr. Flynn noted that the act's funding formula is based largely on the adult-unemployment rate, rather than on the number of disadvantaged youths. Although states are guaranteed up to 90 percent of their previous year's funding, there can be substantial fluctuations in funding at the local level, he said.

"This detracts from our ability to plan and manage programs," Mr. Flynn said.

Mr. Jones agreed that the formula, as structured, has "aberrations" and said the Labor Department is studying the problem.

Summer Programs

Mayor Flynn also noted that a number of cities stand to lose a large part of their funding for summer youth programs under the new budget proposed by the department, which asks for a total of $800,000 less than was allocated in 1985. Newark, for example, would lose 56 percent of its funding for such programs, while Pittsburgh would lose 46 percent and Boston 22 percent, according to Mr. Flynn.

Mr. Brock said the decrease would be mitigated by carry-over funds from last year. A spokesman for the Conference of Mayors, however, said that a survey of about 35 states showed very little carry-over.

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