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Giving Compass' Take:
• The recent farm bill that proposed harsher work requirements under the SNAP programs is discouraging for individuals who need to learn the skills to get back into the workforce.
• The budget proposed 40 percent cuts to federal funding of workforce development programs and instead retains funding for apprenticeship training (which represents a small percentage of the workforce). Why is funding a workforce development not responding to the direct needs of people in poverty? How can the private sector help to supplement programs that the public sector won't provide?
• Read about how renewable learning funds for students could potentially transform workforce development.
The public release of the farm bill included a proposal to toughen the work requirements for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Similarly, the Trump administration’s executive order released Tuesday calls for expanding work requirements for recipients of federal aid programs and encouraging more participation in workforce development training programs.
These efforts are intended to move people out of poverty and into financial security. But the evidence shows that work requirements will do little to support this goal and that current funding for the nation’s primary workforce development programs falls short of the need.
The latest numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that, in 2015, 8.6 million Americans qualified as “working poor” or spent at least 27 weeks in the labor force but had income below the federal poverty level.
Workforce development programs are effective antipoverty tools when they create avenues for low-income people to gain skills and find secure, better-paying jobs. However, it seems unlikely that the proposed funding can support the kinds of workforce development we know is essential to improving employment opportunities for those who need them.
The last two budget proposals from the Trump White House would substantially cut funding for the main workforce development programs under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, not increase the federal investment as the executive order implies.
Meeting the objectives of the executive order—moving people out of poverty—requires a clear understanding of the situation faced by people living in poverty and the working poor. Training low-income and low-skilled people for jobs that are in demand can help some increase their employment, wages, and income, but only if federal funding for workforce development programs increases substantially.
Read the full article about lifting people out of poverty by Demetra Smith Nightingale, Pamela J. Loprest at Urban Institute