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In the United States, a complex system of publicly and privately funded education developed throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries (Grubb, 2001). Though originally only available to society's rich and elite, this system has developed into one that provides access to some level of education for everyone (Grubb, 2001). In a much shorter amount of time, beginning in the 1960s, a subsystem of higher education focused on workforce development has emerged based on federal and state support, local experimentation, and considerable debate about who the system should serve and how it should do so (Grubb, 2001). This workforce development system emphasizes preparation for jobs, focuses on programs of certification over degrees, is often available only to specific populations like the long-term unemployed, dislocated workers - e.g., workers whose industry has become obsolete, or whose employer has left their location - or welfare recipients (Grubb, 2001; K. M. Shaw, Goldrick-Rab, S., Mazzeo, C., and Jacobs, J., 2006). These training programs are offered through a wide range of institutions that include community-based organizations or social service agencies, churches, unions, public or proprietary technical schools, and community colleges (Grubb, 2001).
There are a variety of federal policies and practices aimed at providing access to postsecondary education for Americans in general; paradoxically federal workforce policies can be shown to present obstacles to post-secondary access for the low-income individuals those policies are explicitly seeking to help. In spite of that, the education and training opportunities provided by WIA offer a route to stable employment and social mobility for the low-income population. What are the factors that encourage these low-income students to obtain a certificate or degree while participating in training provided through "intensive services" under the Workforce Investment Act?
There will be several domains explored in this literature review. First, the Workforce Investment Act does more than provide assessment and training for low income individuals who are unable to find work, and it is but one of several methods the federal government employs to do so. The scope of this research project will be limited to these "intensive services" (i.e., in depth interviewing and evaluation to identify employment barriers and set appropriate training or employment goals) provided by the Workforce Investment Act. In order to understand where this aspect of the Workforce Investment Act fits in the broader picture of federal training programs, the first portion of this review will focus on their history and structure.
Following that, this review will turn to examining aspects of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 and its influence on the passage of the Workforce Investment Act. Specifically, the informal policy of "work-first" and how it became standard in many parts of the country, including Chicago, as state and local workforce agencies began to implement the Workforce Investment Act will be discussed. This will include a description of the intake and assessment process for those seeking assistance through the Workforce Investment Act.
Next it will be important to determine what the payoffs of post-secondary education are to low-income individuals. Accordingly this paper will explore a number of studies that describe clear empirical evidence of the relationship between education and earnings, and will examine these outcomes for different types of certificates and degrees (Grubb, 1999; Kane & Rouse, 1995; Levy & Murnane, 1992; Mazzeo, Rab, & Eachus, 2003).
This review will then turn to discovering the characteristics of the typical low-income individual who turns to the Workforce Investment Act. It will be important to discern what the situations in their lives are they find them choosing between work and education, and how they envision the payoffs of each.
Lastly, this review will conclude by summarizing the main findings from the relevant literature, while explaining how these findings influenced the research question and informed the data collection plan.
History of Federal Workforce Development Programs
Though the Wagner-Peyser Act of 1933 established the first national employment service, the federal government got involved with workforce development in earnest in 1935 when Franklin Roosevelt established the Works Progress Administration (WPA) by executive order (Couch, 2010). In 1939 it became the Federal Works agency and was funded with an initial congressional appropriation of $4,880,000,000, an enormous sum even in today's dollars(Couch, 2010). The WPA provided jobs for the unemployed at an unprecedented level by allocating funds to a wide variety of programs, including highways and building construction, slum clearance, reforestation, and rural rehabilitation (Couch, 2010). By 1941 WPA had evolved to primarily a worker training program, and dissolved as unemployment shrank to around 1% at the onset of World War II (Couch, 2010). Shaw, Goldrick-Rab, Mazzeo and Jacobs (2006) suggest that one important aspect of Roosevelt's WPA training programs was that they were administered through local community-based organizations because he didn't trust federal, state and local education administrators to run them effectively. Thus, "whereas educational ideology has played an important role in the development of job training since World War II, its implementation has been and continues to be divorced from the public school and university system"(K. M. Shaw, Goldrick-Rab, S., Mazzeo, C., and Jacobs, J., 2006, p. 22).
When the Economic Opportunity and Higher Education Acts were passed in 1964 as a centerpiece of Lyndon Johnson's War on Poverty, the modern relationship between training and employment began to take shape. The former Act, with its Job Corps for youth training and employment and basic adult education features, and the latter with an emphasis on providing low-income students access to higher education worked to tackle the roots of unemployment and poverty: lack of training or education (Garson, 2010; Gladieux, 1995). It is in the 1972 reauthorization of this legislation that Congress changed the language from "post-secondary" to "higher education" with the intent to end the stereotype that education beyond high school meant full-time attendance in a four-year program leading to a bachelor's degree (Gladieux, 1995). As a reflection of that shift, amendments in the 1972 reauthorization extended greater federal recognition and financial support to career and vocational programs, community colleges, and trade schools as well as to students in part-time programs (Gladieux, 1995).
The Comprehensive Employment and Training Act (CETA) of 1973 replaced the existing patchwork of federal employment and training programs with a form of revenue-sharing where funds and decision-making powers were transferred closer to local authorities in state, county and city governments, who received funds and were commissioned to plan employment and training services for their local area (Maclaury, 1988). It is here that our current system of administering workforce training programs locally began.
When Jimmy Carter took office in 1977 the nation was facing an oil crisis and economic recession. Carter's response was an economic stimulus program that included $8 billion for CETA's Public Service Employment program, resulting in a boom in public sector employment from 310,000 in 1976 to a peak of 725,000 in 1978 (Maclaury, 1988). In response to Carter's expansion of public employment, the 1978 CETA reauthorization was driven by two concerns: what some legislators saw as the need to make employment and training more responsive to the economy through greater involvement of the private sector; and the concern that CETA resources were not targeted on those most in need (Maclaury, 1988). A significant new aspect of CETA in the reauthorization was the Private Sector Initiatives Program (PSIP) which had as its purpose redirecting CETA toward placing the unemployed in jobs in the private sector, as opposed to government works (Maclaury, 1988). To do this, PSIP looked to enhance the participation of private employers in CETA programs. This resulted in the formation of Private Industry Councils (PICs) where business executives, labor leaders and others met in official capacities to work with CETA prime sponsors in the state and local areas. At this point the local public and private collaboration that is central to our modern workforce development system is underway (Grubb, 2001; Maclaury, 1988).
After greatly reducing public sector employment and slashing CETA's budget from $8 billion to less than $4 billion, Ronald Reagan pushed the Job Training and Partnership Act (JTPA) which provided for a partnership between business, labor and government at all levels in an attempt to deliver the maximum amount of training per dollar spent (Maclaury, 1988). The JTPA legislation that related to the training and placement of welfare recipients, federal funding of vocational education, and programs for dislocated workers invested the PICs that had been established by Carter with additional oversight responsibilities (NAWB, 2009). Many responsibilities that were formerly carried out by the federal government were transferred to state and local governments (Maclaury, 1988).
The new system replaced PICs with local Workforce Investment Boards (WIBs) charged with administering each local One Stop (NAWB). The Department of Labor reports there are 1,854 comprehensive One Stop centers in the country. At least 51% of each WIB must be made up of representatives of local business, and the positions are unpaid.
WIA covers a range of programs and efforts relating to employment and services for youth, disabled, veterans, dislocated workers, Native Americans, migrant workers and more.
Welfare Reform, WIA and the "Work-First" Idea
The Workforce Investment Act of 1998 and the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 are inextricably linked by an endorsement of the idea of work-first (K. M. Shaw, Goldrick-Rab, S., Mazzeo, C., and Jacobs, J., 2006). Accordingly, the impact of work-first policies - either formal policies or those carried out in practice by case managers - can only be discovered by exploring the implementation of both. Authors Kathleen Shaw, Sara Goldrick-Rab, Christopher Mazzeo and Jerry Jacobs point out the central contradiction with then-President Clinton's approach to welfare reform. First, they write that in the 1996 commencement address Clinton delivered at Princeton University, he declared that "our goal must be nothing less than to make the thirteenth and fourteenth years of education as universal to all Americans as the first twelve are today" (K. M. Shaw, Goldrick-Rab, S., Mazzeo, C., and Jacobs, J., 2006). Clinton's "college opportunity strategy" would involve the biggest expansion of federal financial aid since the GI Bill (K. M. Shaw, Goldrick-Rab, S., Mazzeo, C., and Jacobs, J., 2006). However, the authors point out that later in the same year, while signing the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act - welfare reform - into law, Clinton suggested that the new law would "help people to go to work so they can stop drawing a welfare check and start drawing a paycheckâ€¦we are saying with this bill that we expect work" (K. M. Shaw, Goldrick-Rab, S., Mazzeo, C., and Jacobs, J., 2006). Shaw and others suggest that the work-first idea stands in stark contrast to the idea of universal college that Clinton mentioned in the Princeton speech and that in practice, "college is for some, not for all" (K. M. Shaw, Goldrick-Rab, S., Mazzeo, C., and Jacobs, J., 2006, p. 2).
The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) "radically changed welfare as we knew it"(Zuckerman, 2000). Though the Adult training and education programs and dislocated worker features of WIA are clearly the result of incremental policy changes traceable to the New Deal, they exist in their present form in large part to compromises made between anti-poverty and pro-business forces over eight decades of political volleying. First, low unemployment through the Clinton years led to a public mood to be one in favor of cutting funding for social programs generally, and reducing funds for federal workforce programs specifically (K. M. Shaw, Goldrick-Rab, S., Mazzeo, C., and Jacobs, J., 2006). Second, perhaps mirroring that public mood, when Republicans took over Congress, the Contract with America marked a sea change in the federal government's approach to social programs (K. M. Shaw, Goldrick-Rab, S., Mazzeo, C., and Jacobs, J., 2006; Zuckerman, 2000).
The cultural and political pressures of the mid-1990s resulted in a dramatic change in federal policy toward the poor and unemployed, "despite doomsday predictions from many experts and organizations and almost no solid information" about the change's impact (Zuckerman, 2000, p. 588). But the passage of the welfare reform law was the result of many years of debate as well as questions expressed from across the political spectrum about the extent to which federal welfare policy should be considered a failure or an essential safety net (K. M. Shaw & Rab, 2003; Zuckerman, 2000). On the conservative side of the debate, there were many years of anecdotes about "welfare queens" "driving fancy cars, buying steaks with their food stamps, and teaching their children that welfare made working unnecessary" (Zuckerman, 2000, p. 587). Perpetuating this myth and "dismantling the welfare state" was an important priority for many Republicans who took control of Congress in January 1995 (Zuckerman, 2000). On the liberal side, while there was an assumption that welfare kept the most vulnerable members of society protected, there was also a concern about the deteriorating conditions in inner cities, where dependence on welfare was sometimes a way of life that got handed down through generations, often accompanied by drug abuse, violence, teen pregnancy, and other social ills (Zuckerman, 2000). The considerable amount of data and research that the federal government had at its disposal should have provided essential information in determining how the welfare system should be changed, but instead, "research was used as an ideological weapon to support conflicting points of view" (Zuckerman, 2000, p. 588).
In 1998, Congress passed the Workforce Investment Act, "requiring states and localities to bring together federally funded employment and training programs into a comprehensive workforce investment system, called the One Stop system (GAO)."
The Value of Sub-baccalaureate Degrees
Completion is the key when it comes to advanced education. To fully enjoy the benefits of higher knowledge and skills, one must graduate. Dropping in for a couple of courses at the local campus rarely makes much of a difference for long-term student success. Therefore, it is vitally important that states ensure that students have the opportunity to pursue the full range of higher education pathways that not only increase the likelihood of college completion, but also landing good careers. A too often underutilized strategy - but one that can deliver greater income returns than associate and even some bachelor's degrees - is certificates. And for students balancing the jobs they must have with the advanced education they desire - a situation faced by most American college students today - completing a certificate can be the most direct path to college completion and career success. Against this backdrop, Certificates Count: An Analysis of Sub-baccalaureate Certificates calls attention to the significant value of certificate programs
- practical and often underutilized credentials that can provide graduates with an appealing combination of rapid postsecondary achievement and portable skills and knowledge. Certificates
can position graduates for immediate workforce success, while establishing solid foundations for future academic achievement. For these reasons, Certificates Count, advocates for a national goal to double the number of long-term certificates produced within the next five years, and then double that number again over the subsequent five years. However, this study does not simply advocate the expansion of certificates on an across-the-board basis. It draws attention to important distinctions between certificate programs: length of program, subjects studied, program quality, and availability by geographical region.
For certificates to make a decisive contribution to U.S. postsecondary preparedness, states and institutions must ensure that certificate programs are of high quality, rigorous enough to have real value, tailored to the job market, widely available, and designed for timely completion.
Certificates, sometimes known as technical certificates or technical diplomas, are credentials issued by educational institutions that indicate completion of a discrete program of study or series of courses. The most popular programs, making up some 43 percent of all certificates, are in healthcare. Fields like business and technology also attract large numbers of students, who are generally eligible for federal and state financial aid. About 750,000 certificates were awarded in 2007-2008, the most recent year for which data are available. That number represents a modest increase over the past decade (but a decline from the one million-plus certificates that were awarded in 1992-1993, before a regulatory crackdown on unscrupulous practices by some trade schools). A little more than half of all certificates are awarded by public sector institutions, mostly community colleges. About four in ten are granted by for-profit institutions. On the demographic front, women account for close to two-thirds of certificate-holders. Certificates are also particularly appealing to black and Hispanic students, who earn about one-third of all certificates, compared to20 percent of all bachelor's degrees. As with overall certificate numbers, there is a substantial gender imbalance among minorities, with black and Hispanic men earning less than half the number of certificates received by minority women.
In the U.S. job market where increasingly occupations need at least a 2 year degree or some vocational training, the amount of federal funding for these programs has dramatically decreased (K. M. Shaw & Rab, 2003). It is definitely worth mentioning that the Obama administration nearly doubled 2009 funding for Workforce Investment Act programs with roughly $3 billion from the American Recover and Reinvestment Act, but just around $500 million of that went for Adult programs (CBPP, 2009). However that funding is now gone and state governments and community colleges alike are facing significant reductions in spending (Gonzalez, 2010).
Characteristics of Low-income Individuals
College populations have been on the increase for decades, and accompanying that increase is a rise in the percentage of economically disadvantaged students (National Center for Education Statistics 2005). Community colleges with their open enrollment policies have played a large part in the increase in enrollment but daunting challenges still remain to improve completion particularly for those who come unprepared (Engstrom, 2008). Cathy McHugh Engstrom writes that difficulty in promoting success for underprepared students is especially "great in the urban two- and four-year colleges that serve large numbers of working-class and underrepresented students"(Engstrom, 2008, p. 6). Roughly 45 percent of first time students in those institutions participate in "some form of academic support or basic skills courses"(Engstrom, 2008). As the community college is an institution that "historically claimed the moral high ground for educating underserved populations - including those populations who are on the economic periphery of society - it bears a particularly responsibility for remedying unjust conditions for disadvantaged populations"(Levin, 2007).
Characteristics of Workforce Investment Act Participants
Intensive services - Includes more comprehensive assessments, development of individual employment plans and counseling and career planning;
All adults, 18 years and older, are eligible for core services.
Priority for intensive and training services must be given to recipients of public assistance and other low-income individuals where funds are limited.
In addition to unemployed adults, employed adults can also receive services to obtain or retain employment that allows for self-sufficiency. State and local areas are responsible for establishing procedures for applying the priority and self-sufficiency requirements.
JACOBS CC AND WIA
First, low-income individuals gain short-term, job-specific training that is supplemented with basic academic skills that often lead to a certificate or degree. New immigrants can receive English as a Second Language (ESL) training that is contextualized with technical subject matter. In addition, students may have the opportunity to participate in work-based learning, providing them with highly valuable work experience in high-skilled workplaces. When students complete these programs, there are potentially significant economic benefits, including higher income and greater stability in the workplace (Grubb, 2001). Benefits are evident for the community colleges as well. Because community development is a mission of community colleges, one of the most important services these institutions can perform is to prepare citizens for the new economy. Addressing the skill needs of the working poor makes sense from a community development perspective (Bluestone and Harrison, 2000), and community colleges have a major role to play in preparing people to meet new standards of cost efficiency, quality, customization, and speed (Carnevale and Desrochers, 1997). Community colleges should not only provide customized training for local firms to prepare their incumbent workers, but they should increase the base of skilled workers within the community at large as part of developing and keeping the local infrastructure agile. Armed with better skills, low-income citizens will not only earn more money, but they will be less likely to suffer from the negative economic and social consequences of unemployment. Having recognized the benefits of community college programs for low-income persons, it is important to note common barriers. Some community college staff oppose efforts to bring WIA- and TANF-funded programs into community colleges because the students they serve are not considered suitable for college. Seen as a drain on traditional programs and services, the relatively high costs of programs and services targeted at low-income citizens may be criticized. Specifically, these programs may strain existing counseling and support services, and these are exactly the kinds of services that are needed to assist students to complete programs successfully.
Process for Receiving Assistance through the Workforce Investment Act
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