The Problem with Job Training in the District

Mike Bitzenhofer / Flickr

Unemployment in D.C. varies. In some parts of the District it’s 3 percent, while in others its 25 percent. The explanation to such high and uneven unemployment is complex, but one central reason is the majority of the available jobs in the District require skills and education that many of the unemployed lack. Job training is seen as a logical solution to this “skills gap.”

But job training programs have to be done right. WAMU 88.5′s Patrick Madden reports on problems with the District’s job training contracts. In one instance, the city was paying double per trainee than what nearby states paid. In another, the District gave a job training school $500,000 to train 70 people. The school, which is no longer running, is now embroiled in legal troubles; a private consulting firm has accused the school’s owner of misusing funds.

Such questionable contracts not only raise concerns over how the city uses its money, but also over the effectiveness of its job training system. DCentric has written about individuals who had trouble finding work after completing such job training programs.

Job training programs can be effective for some people, but such programs alone can’t reduce overarching unemployment disparities. For instance, 10 percent of D.C. residents have criminal records. For those individuals, no amount of job training can erase the challenge of getting hired with a past conviction.

You can listen to Madden’s full report here.

  • oboe

    The issue is this:  in the area where unemployment is 25%, the problems go far beyond simple job training.  It’s deeply entrenched multi-generational poverty.  It’s having absolutely zero working role models.  It’s a total lack of *soft* skills–like being polite, or arriving to work on time–not hard skills like “how to use a circular saw.”

    The way you solve the 25% unemployment rate is by dispersing concentrated poverty.  You do that by aggressively giving out Section 8 housing vouchers, shutting down the projects, and increasing the amount of support for poor parents.  Give them real jobs, and pay 100% of child care costs.

  • raymond bell

    Great article, happy to see some light shed on the issue.  You should contact the the HOPE Project aka “Harvard of the Hood”, Innovative program with excellent results.

  • Anonymous

    Knowledge is the only instrument of production that is not subject to diminishing returns. An interesting research article called High Speed Universities is the solution to stop your job hunt. Search for it online.