Training people for poverty: Is the Job Training Partnership Act ``working''?

Date of Completion

January 1996


Education, Adult and Continuing|Political Science, Public Administration|Sociology, Public and Social Welfare|Education, Vocational




The federal government has funded a series of programs to improve the human capital of the United States labor force. The Manpower Development and Training Act (MDTA) of 1962 was the first effort. In 1973, it was modified and expanded under the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act (CETA); and currently is authorized under the Job Training Partnership Act (JTPA) of 1982. These programs sought to increase the employment and earnings and reduce the welfare dependency of economically disadvantaged individuals.^ Research at the national level has demonstrated that the overall success of these programs has been affected by a number of labor market, political, organizational and social factors. However, little is known about the effect of these factors at the local level. In order to gain a more complete knowledge of the obstacles at the local level that challenge the objectives of the national job training system, a case study was conducted of the JTPA system in Hartford, Connecticut. Data were collected to answer the research question: At the local level, what labor market, political and organizational factors affect the JTPA system's efforts to provide training and employment? Specifically, how do these factors mitigate the purpose of the national system?^ The knowledge gained from researching the Hartford JTPA system is useful in understanding the labor market, organizational and political factors which effect the ability of job training programs to meet the educational and occupational needs of the disadvantaged. The governing, administrative and programmatic entities in the JTPA system all face a multitude of labor market, organizational and political obstacles which challenge the system in its efforts to meet its mandates and the needs of program participants.^ An understanding of these factors is also useful in examining the other services and programs which try to meet the social service, educational and occupational needs of men and women. Many of these programs and reforms will fail by design unless there is attention to the structural inequities in the labor market which make finding employment difficult for the disadvantaged. As the government moves toward greater privatization of these services, research such as this thesis can continue to surface the discrepancies between legislation and implementation. ^