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J.T.P.A. Said To Neglect Neediest

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Washington--Young people who need employment skills the most appear to be getting shortchanged in the federal government's principal job-training program, an official of the General Accounting Office told a House committee last week.

Lawrence H. Thompson, assistant comptroller general of the gao, said a study of the Job Training Partnership Act program by his agency found that young people identified as less "job ready"--such as high-school dropouts, welfare recipients, and many blacks and Hispanics--were served less frequently by jtpa than whites, high-school graduates, and those not receiving welfare.

"It would appear that less jtpa funding is spent on those less ready for jobs, even though they may need more assistance to prepare them for employment," Mr. Thompson testified before the House Education and Labor Committee.

Both the House panel and the Senate Subcommittee on Employment and Productivity are considering whether to propose amendments to the jtpa in the next Congress. Some critics of the program argue that its funding formula provides states with little incentive to train low-income and minority adults and "at risk" young people.

"The program is not focusing on hard-to-serve individuals--the population segment where, potentially, the greatest return on investment can be realized," Gerald W. Peterson, a Labor Department assistant inspector general, told the panel.

Last week's hearing drew criticism from at least one Republican member of the committee, Representative Harris W. Fawell of Illinois. He suggested it may have been timed to embarrass the Republican Presidential ticket.

The Republican nominee for Vice ident, Senator Dan Quayle of Indiana, has cited the enactment of the jtpa as his major legislative accomplishment.

Democratic committee members responded that the timing of the hearing had nothing to do with partisan politics.

However, Representative Pat Williams, a Montana Democrat, issued a news release last week accusing Senator Quayle of a "dishonest last-minute conversion" in support of the federal Job Corps program, which predated the jtpa but was incorporated into it.

Mr. Williams criticized Mr. Quayle for campaigning recently at a Job Corps center in El Paso, where he told students, "We believe in you.'' In his release, Mr. Williams noted that the Administration has sought to reduce funding for the program in every year but 1984, the year President Reagan was seeking reelection.--mw

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