Job Corps:

Vocational Training Performance Data Overstate Program Success

T-HEHS-98-218: Published: Jul 29, 1998. Publicly Released: Jul 29, 1998.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO discussed the Job Corps' vocational training services, focusing on the: (1) Department of Labor's efforts to ensure the appropriateness of vocational training and its relevance to local labor markets; (2) extent to which program participants are completing vocational training programs and obtaining jobs related to the training received; and (3) appropriateness of Labor's use of sole-source procurement for a substantial portion of this training.

GAO noted that: (1) 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 employer needs; (2) Labor has industry advisory groups regularly review vocational course curricula to ensure the training's relevance for today's job market; (3) Labor has also introduced a school-to-work initiative designed to link Job Corps with local area employers, combining center-based training with actual work site experience at more than half the Job Corps centers; (4) Labor involves local business and community leaders in deciding which vocational training programs to offer at newly established Job Corps centers; (5) in addition to these national efforts, three of Labor's regional offices have developed their own initiatives to improve linkages between Job Corps and local labor markets, including modifying vocational training to meet local employer needs; (6) information reported by Labor on the percentage of Job Corps participants who complete their vocational training and obtain jobs related to that training is misleading and overstates program results; (7) although Job Corps reported that in program year 1996, 48 percent of program participants nationwide completed vocational training, GAO's review concluded that only 14 percent of program participants had completed all requirements of their vocational training curricula; (8) the rest of the participants that Job Corps counted as completing training had completed only some of the duties and tasks of a specific vocational training program; (9) Labor also reported that 62 percent of the participants nationwide who obtained employment found jobs that matched the vocational training received in Job Corps; (10) the validity of about 41 percent of the job placements reported by Labor to be training related was questionable; (11) Labor has been awarding sole-source contracts to national labor and business organizations for vocational training for more than 30 years; (12) it has not adequately justified procuring these training services on a noncompetitive basis; (13) the main reason Labor has justified awarding these contracts on a sole-source basis is that these organizations are able to place Job Corps participants who complete their training; and (14) Labor has provided no data to support the extent to which these sole-source contractors actually place Job Corps participants nationwide.

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