Are DC’s Workforce Development Efforts Putting Residents to Work?
With nearly one in ten DC residents out of work and a workforce development budget of $57.5 million, DC needs to know whether its efforts to put residents to work are effective. A provision in the FY 2013 budget aims to help answer this question by requiring quarterly reporting on the outcomes of DC’s locally-funded job training and adult education programs. This is a great first step in assessing our efforts, but a full assessment must include all of DC’s workforce development programs, including the Mayor’s One-City One-Hire initiative.
Preparing residents for jobs is one of the key ways the District can shape its future. Effectively using resources to help DC residents learn new job skills, sharpen existing ones, and match them with employers is critical not only to economic development but to reducing unemployment, lifting families out of poverty, and lessening income inequality.
But in the past, the performance measures for the District’s workforce development programs did little to tell whether the city was achieving these goals. The measures focused primarily on outputs, such as how many participants completed training, rather than on outcomes that truly measure progress, such as how many participants secured jobs.
A provision in the FY 2013 budget addresses these inadequacies by mandating quarterly reporting to include the number of participants who secure and retain employment, among other measures. Using the same measures for each program will show whether certain types of training lead to better employment outcomes than others. Additionally, for programs where services are contracted out, the data will be broken down by provider, showing whether some vendors are more effective than others. The reporting will also allow us to compare programs and vendors on costs and numbers served.
These are very promising steps toward increasing the performance and accountability of DC’s workforce development programs. To be most useful, the reporting should include all workforce development programs, particularly the new One-City One-Hire program. This program acts as a matchmaker in the jobs market, helping to match workers to employers. As a new program, stakeholders should be reviewing outcomes both to ensure that it is meeting its goals as well as to identify potential areas of improvement. Let’s make sure DC is doing all it can to help residents secure and retain employment.