Job Corps:

High Costs and Mixed Results Raise Questions About Program's Effectiveness

HEHS-95-180: Published: Jun 30, 1995. Publicly Released: Jun 30, 1995.

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Carlotta C. Joyner
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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on Job Corps program operations, focusing on: (1) who is being served and the services provided; (2) the outcomes that the program is achieving in relation to program cost and employers' satisfaction with Job Corps students they hire; and (3) whether the long-standing practice of awarding sole-source contracts for vocational training services is cost-effective.

GAO found that: (1) Job Corps services severely disadvantaged youth and provides them with comprehensive services in a residential setting; (2) 68 percent of the students that left Job Corps in 1994 encountered several barriers to employment, such as not having a high school diploma, lacking basic skills, receiving public assistance, and having limited English proficiency; (3) 20 percent of Job Corps' funds were spent on basic education and vocational skills training in 1994; (4) Job Corps students that complete vocational training are five times more likely to get higher paying, training-related jobs; (5) most employers are generally satisfied with Job Corps students' basic work habits and the technical training provided by the Job Corps program; (6) only moderate differences exist between the job placement rates of national contractors and Job Corps training providers; and (7) the continued use of national contractors as training providers is not cost-effective because they account for nearly one-third of Job Corps' vocational training expenditures and the training they provide is primarily in a declining occupational category.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Labor initiated a new system to compare the performance of national contractors with overall Job Corps center performance as a basis for evaluating performance. In addition, Labor will review all Job Corps vocational course offerings to ensure that they are for occupations with a labor market demand.

    Recommendation: To ensure that Job Corps vocational training programs are provided in the most efficient and effective manner, the Secretary of Labor should revisit whether the continued use of national training contractors is cost effective.

    Agency Affected: Department of Labor


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