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Evaluation finds California workforce programs succeeding but underfunded

The Issue

Since 2000, California and its partners in local workforce areas have implemented new provisions contained in the federal Workforce Investment Act (WIA). WIA gives local areas considerable discretion to tailor programs to community needs, but little was known about how this discretion was being used.

What Has ANR Done?

From 2004-2006, a UC Davis research team led by Cooperative Extension specialist David Campbell partnered with the California Workforce Investment Board to study the implementation and outcomes of WIA in California. The goal was to identify and better understand the most important system-wide opportunities and challenges based on the experience and reflections of public and private stakeholders throughout the California system.

Using common research protocols, a research team prepared detailed case studies of 10 of California's 50 local workforce investment areas. In all, the team interviewed more than 460 people, visited local areas repeatedly, attended local and state Workforce Investment Board meetings, studied local area documents and websites, and kept in touch with key contacts by phone. Five evaluation reports, available from the California Communities Program website, detail the evaluation findings.

The Payoff

Increased funding and better focus needed

Despite federal budget cuts of up to 40 percent in some areas, local workforce areas in California are serving more Californians than ever before. To maintain the quality of these services, funding cuts need to be restored, and state officials need to refocus their program efforts. In particular, the evaluation recommends that state officials:

*Increase emphasis on worker skill development and pathways to good jobs, and treating “rapid workforce attachment” and “training” as integrated facets of workforce programs.
*Adopt up-to-date management strategies that de-emphasize top-down controls and instead empower personnel at all levels of the system.
*Institute major changes in the performance measurement and data management systems to reduce unnecessary paperwork and to provide timely data linked to specific strategic policy initiatives.

A complete set of five evaluation reports is available at the California Communities Program website: http://groups.ucanr.org/CCP/index.cfm.


Supporting Unit:

UC California Communities Program
David Campbell, UC Davis Department of Human and Community Development,dave.c.campbell@ucdavis.edu,
(530) 754-4328