Despite record unemployment, workforce centers that train the unemployed must do more with less as federal funds for training dry up. Federal money for training dislocated workers is 18 percent lower than it was in 2006 even though six million more people are looking for work now, reports the Department of Labor.
In 2000, more than $2.1 billion was spent to train dislocated workers under the Workforce Investment Act. Now the investment is about $1.2 billion. Some observers associate the drop in spending with a growing skill gap among the unemployed. The New York Times reported recently that employers complain that the jobless lack needed skills. “We should be spending significantly more than we were spending five years ago,” said Andy Van Kleunen, executive director of the National Skills Coalition, a nonprofit group that promotes investment in training.
In a recent budget proposal, President Obama requested an additional $2.8 billion a year for job training over the next decade. National economic advisor Gene Sperling said “the president felt that there was an imperative to call right now for a more simplified and effective training system” that also had an increase in funds.