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GAO Finds Gaps in WIA Job Training Data

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March 26, 2014

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GAO Finds Gaps in WIA Job Training Data

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) has released a report analyzing Workforce Investment Act (WIA) job training outcomes and data, noting difficulties in tracking training-related employment outcomes in particular.

From 2006 to 2011, there was a significant increase in the number of people participating in WIA's Adult and Dislocated Worker Programs, likely due to the recession. While more people were served and the number of credentials earned increased over this time period, the percentage of participants earning credentials dropped from 75 percent to 63 percent for the Dislocated Worker Program and from 74 percent to 58 percent for the Adult Program. Some of this decline may be due to differences in state-negotiated performance measures, according to Department of Labor (DOL) officials.

Most training participants who did attain a credential earned an occupational credential, and most spent one year or less receiving training services. The Dislocated Worker Program demonstrated higher attainment rates than the Adult Program.

GAO analysts were not able to determine training-related employment outcomes owing to challenges collecting and reporting data. DOL is taking steps to address this problem, but the report concludes that more needs to be done. The authors recommend that the Secretary of Labor identify and disseminate to states strategies for gathering and reporting data on training-related employment.

Collecting and sharing high-quality data presents challenges that many in the CTE and workforce development communities are working to overcome. ACTE is one of eight national partners in the Workforce Data Quality Campaign, which is calling for policymakers in Washington, DC and in the state capitals to take a more inclusive approach to education data quality efforts, including the diversity of students and workers and the  range of education and labor market outcomes that comprise our nation's human capital strategy.

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