Providing Disadvantaged Workers with Skills to Succeed in the Labor Market

Publisher: The Hamilton Project’s Policies to Address Poverty in America, and a segment in Building Skills
Jun 19, 2014
Sheena McConnell, Irma Perez-Johnson, and Jillian Berk

Millions of Americans cannot obtain jobs that pay enough to lift them out of poverty. For many, the principal barrier to obtaining these good jobs is their lack of specialized occupational skills increasingly sought by employers. Research has shown that vocational training can be effective in boosting the earnings of disadvantaged adult workers. This proposal argues that, by helping workers acquire the skills that employers demand, vocational training could be wielded as an effective anti-poverty tool.

This paper outlines why Congress should increase funding for vocational training for disadvantaged adult workers. Specifically, we argue that Congress should increase funding for the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) Adult program.

We also argue, however, that Congress, and the state and local workforce investment boards that administer the WIA Adult program, should explore ways to improve the vocational training that is available to adult disadvantaged workers.