House Breaks With Bush Administration On Key Features of Job-Training Measure

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WASHINGTON--House lawmakers who have resumed their efforts to amend the Job Training Partnership Act are retaining many of the themes that appeared in last year's legislation, but have broken from some key areas of earlier agreement with the Bush Administration.

The leading House bill, HR 3033, would create a new year-round youth-training program under the J.T.P.A., while preserving current adult and summer-youth programs. That was what was called for in last year's measure, which failed to reach a conference committee before lawmakers adjourned.

But, in a markup session in late July, members of the House Employment Opportunities Subcommittee backed off from Administration-supported provisions that would attempt to target more narrowly the program, which currently serves a small fraction of eligible participants, on those with educational, economic, and physical handicaps.

Federal job-training efforts in recent years have been criticized for "creaming," or enrolling the most capable participants, in order to inflate the job-placement rates that were used as a standard for awarding incentive funds.

The House panel's plan would tighten the program's procurement procedures and set new conditions for on-the-job-training efforts.

Observers said it is unclear whether the change means a rougher road for the legislation. The Senate appears to be waiting for the House to finish action before resuming its work on the program.

Race, Gender Disparities

While lawmakers work on J.T.P.A. reforms, the General Accounting Office has released evidence underscoring another criticism of the job-training program.

In testimony before the House Government Operations Committee, Lawrence H. Thompson, the C.A.O.'s assistant comptroller general, said research indicates that gender and racial disparities shortchange minorities and women who seek training.

The review found that, using a conservative estimate, from 11 percent to 20 percent of the job-training service-delivery areas favor white and male participants. Under another test, the disparity figures hover in the 30 percent range.

Mr. Thompson said that white participants are more likely to receive on-the-job and classroom training under the J.T.P.A., while minorities more often receive job search assistance.

Judged on gender, the survey of 227 service-delivery areas in 16 states showed that women are often trained in jobs that pay lower entry wages than men.

The C.A.O. attributed the disparities to inadequate oversight by the U.S. Labor Department, lack of an independent assessment of programs, and local factors ranging from discrimination to participants' selection of stereotypical jobs.

Vol. 11, Issue 01, Page 41

Published in Print: September 4, 1991, as House Breaks With Bush Administration On Key Features of Job-Training Measure
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