The Washington Post reports that the city of Washington, D.C. has failed to spend "tens of millions of dollars" in available federal and city funding for "job training" for the unemployed.
My question is: What, exactly, is "job training"?
And why, if, as the article says, Washington has 25,000 unemployed people, why does it cost nearly $10,000 apiece to "train" them for jobs? Yes, you read that right: The federal "job training" pot earmarked for the District of Columbia is a whopping $24 million, according to WashPost reporter Robert McCartney.
But you won't find the answer to either question in McCartney's story. Instead, you'll find two poster children supposedly deprived of "job training" because of apparent bureaucratic ineptitude on the part of the D.C. "Workforce Investment Council" that has caused it to be unable to spend this huge wad of taxpayer money.
Here's one of the poster children:
One person affected was Karen Privado, 20, of Columbia Heights in Northwest Washington. She was close to getting her high-school equivalency degree, known as the GED, until her course at the Latin American Youth Center lost its funding in September. Now she hopes the course will resume next year, as District officials promise.
“It’s sad to me, because my goal this year was to get my GED,” Privado said.
Privado, photographed with her son who appears to be age 2, is currently living with her parents. What she has has been doing with herself for the past three months and plans to do with herself for the next nine months is unknown.
Here's the other:
At the Latin American Youth Center, the shutdown disappointed Stephon Williams, 23, who lives in Congress Park in Southeast. He had been attending classes regularly since January, in hope that a GED would help him move ahead in the retail industry. He previously worked as a bagger and stock clerk at Giant, but aspires to a better position.
“You still need that certificate, because that’s how the world works,” Williams said. “I was actually learning something. . . . I understood fractions better. That made me want to be here.”
Williams dropped out of Benjamin Cardozo High School in the 10th grade after he turned 18.
In other words, Williams has been doing zilch for nearly a full year–at least. Maybe he should have kept that gig at the Giant supermarket chain (which–hey, Stephon!–is actually looking for employees right now and pays good benefits, according to its website). Doesn't holding a job count as "job training"?
As for that high-school diploma, why don't Privado and Williams just re-enroll in high school? It's free! And if it's too mortifying to be sitting in room full of 17-year-olds, the University of the District of Columbia's community-college division offers an online GED prep course for just $115. Plus other basic math and literacy courses similarly priced. Why doesn't the DC government just hand the two a few hundred dollars for some UDC remedial courses instead of funneling thousands of dollars through a "youth center" and its staff of still more time-serving appartatchiks?
Furthermore, it seems that the District's unemployed seem to be fully aware that "job training" that doesn't train people in specific job skills (welding, word processing, whatever) is a complete waste of time:
“Low enrollments [italics mine], under-expenditures and poor performance have been endemic in the [federally] funded youth program,” Labor’s Employment and Training Administration said in a Sept. 18 letter to the city’s Department of Employment Services, or DOES…
As of Dec. 1, the number of youths in job training was 494, compared to 758 in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, DOES said.
Those "youths" are voting with their feet to stay away from anything under the aegis of the "Workplace Investment Council." You've got to give them credit for not being stupid.
Look, kids, here's how to get and keep a job. Show up for the interview on time and in respectable-looking clothes. Once hired, show up on time, don't goof off, and don't give your boss lip. That's it: Job Training 101.
Also, it's really not a good idea to get pregnant out of wedlock when you're still in high school. Really.