Job Corps:

Links With Labor Market Improved but Vocational Training Performance Overstated

HEHS-99-15: Published: Nov 4, 1998. Publicly Released: Nov 4, 1998.

Additional Materials:

Contact:

Cynthia Maher Fagnoni
(202) 512-7202
contact@gao.gov

 

Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800
youngc1@gao.gov

Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed Job Corps' vocational training component to describe the program's contracting policies and to assess contractor performance, focusing on: (1) how Job Corps ensures that vocational training is appropriate and relevant to employers' needs and the extent to which participants are completing vocational training and obtaining training-related jobs; and (2) Job Corps' process for contracting with vocational training providers.

GAO noted that: (1) the Department of Labor has several activities to foster Job Corps' employer and community linkages to ensure the appropriateness of its vocational training to local labor markets and its relevance to employers' needs; (2) Labor has industry advisory groups that regularly review vocational course curricula to ensure their relevance to today's job market; (3) Labor has also introduced a school-to-work initiative designed to link Job Corps with local employers combining center-based training with actual worksite experience at more than half the Job Corps centers; (4) complementing these national efforts, three of Labor's regional offices have developed their own initiatives to improve linkages between Job Corps and local labor markets; (5) despite Labor's efforts to increase the effectiveness of its vocational training through employer and community linkages, Job Corps data on the extent to which participants complete vocational training and obtain training-related jobs are misleading and overstate the program's results; (6) although Job Corps reported that 48 percent of its program year 1996 participants completed their vocational training, GAO found that only 14 percent of the program participants actually completed all the requirements of their vocational training curricula; (7) the rest of the participants whom Job Corps considered to be vocational completers had performed only some of the duties and tasks of a specific vocational training program; (8) Labor also reported that 62 percent of the participants nationwide who obtained employment found jobs that matched the vocational training received in Job Corps; (9) at the five centers GAO visited, however, the validity of about 41 percent of the job placements reported by Labor to be training-related was questionable; (10) in looking at how training providers are selected, GAO found that about a third of Job Corps' vocational training has been provided under sole source contracts awarded to national labor and business organizations for more than 30 years, but in GAO's opinion, Labor has not adequately justified procuring these training services noncompetitively; (11) a principal reason Labor has cited for awarding these contracts on a sole source basis is that these organizations maintain an extensive nationwide placement network and are better able than nonnational organizations to place Job Corps participants who complete their training; and (12) Labor has provided no data, however, to show the extent to which these sole source contractors actually place Job Corps participants nationwide.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Policy guidance has been issued defining vocational program step off levels and clarifying definition of program completion.

    Recommendation: Improvements are needed to ensure that the information used to assess Job Corps program performance is accurate and meaningful. Specifically, two of the measures used to judge the success of the Job Corps program--vocational completion and job training match--provide misleading information that overstates program outcomes. Therefore, the Secretary of Labor should more accurately define and report information on the extent to which program participants complete vocational training.

    Agency Affected: Department of Labor

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Labor has instituted a new system of reporting job training matches that, according to DOL officials, will eliminate egregious matches. Also Labor has hired two new staff, one located in Seattle and one located in Washington, DC to monitor the reporting of placements.

    Recommendation: Improvements are needed to ensure that the information used to assess Job Corps program performance is accurate and meaningful. Specifically, two of the measures used to judge the success of the Job Corps program--vocational completion and job training match--provide misleading information that overstates program outcomes. Therefore, the Secretary of Labor should develop a more accurate system of reporting training-related jobs and effectively monitor its implementation.

    Agency Affected: Department of Labor

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Labor has evaluated the use of national training contracts for vocational training and has decided to retain national contracts where Labor determines them to be appropriate and a better alternative to local contractors in terms of performance.

    Recommendation: Because Labor has not presented adequate justification for its long-standing practice of contracting on a sole source basis with nine national labor and business organizations for vocational training, the Secretary of Labor should properly justify its use of noncompetitive procedures if it is to continue to award contracts for vocational training services. In so doing, the agency should assess whether vocational training could be served as well through contracts competed for locally or regionally.

    Agency Affected: Department of Labor

 

Explore the full database of GAO's Open Recommendations »

Jul 23, 2014

May 15, 2014

Apr 9, 2014

Mar 5, 2014

Jan 23, 2014

Dec 20, 2013

Dec 6, 2013

Dec 2, 2013

Nov 4, 2013

Jul 19, 2013

Looking for more? Browse all our products here