In 1982, Congress passed the Job Training and Partnership Act. Now the largest federal employment training program, its goal was to boost the earnings and employment rates of economically disadvantaged adults and youths. It funds a network of federal, state, and local agencies to the tune of $1.6 billion a year. Working through vocational high schools, community colleges, and other community-based organizations, the JTPA annually trains about 1 million participants and helps them find jobs.
But according to a new report from the General Accounting Office, the program's results are less than impressive. Despite months of training and placement assistance, JTPA participants rarely earn much more than comparable non-participants, and their employment rates are only slightly higher. In fact, the programs are so ineffective that the GAO "could not attribute the higher earnings to JTPA training rather than to chance alone."