Small businesses often have serious difficulty finding skilled employees, upgrading the skills of their existing employees, and identifying strategies to meet future workforce needs. The Workforce Investment Act of 1998 seeks to address these workforce development issues and give federal training programs a greater employer focus. Although these problems are common throughout the country, small businesses in some areas have joined with business and trade organizations, community colleges, and other public and private groups to form workforce development networks--often referred to as workforce consortia. This new approach offers small businesses access to various workforce development activities in which they might otherwise be unable to participate. Limited information exists on the outcome of workforce consortia at the sites GAO reviewed. There were no systematic efforts to evaluate overall consortium effectiveness, but there were isolated attempts to monitor participation rates and assess the impact of specific activities on job retention and future earnings.
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