One of the main ways all levels of government in the United States support adults with low incomes and displaced workers to secure new jobs is by providing a variety of services for these individuals to undertake workforce training programs. For both training participants and policymakers, a leading goal of completing these programs is for people to secure good quality employment with long-term career and economic mobility potential.
State governments play a key role in the provision of these supports by overseeing Eligible Training Provider Lists (ETPLs), directories of workforce training programs that people who receive training subsidies through the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) can enroll in. While only a small share of those enrolling in workforce training receive WIOA-funded training subsidies, these lists of state-approved programs can also be used by the broader public to assess options in the process of choosing a training program.
The programs on these lists vary widely in terms of labor market outcomes and the lists often lack critical information that would help training seekers make an informed decision. At the same time, enrolling in these programs involves a considerable investment of time, energy, and resources on behalf of individuals. Rather than finding a new job that offers family-sustaining wages and benefits, far too many people make significant investments to pursue workforce training programs, but ultimately obtain low-wage jobs with unclear paths to mobility.
To aid states in moving beyond these challenges, this policy brief presents strategies for states to create data systems and online tools that equip training seekers and others with vital information around program outcomes and quality, and to use data systems to improve the quality of training offerings.
In relation to these goals, the focus is on Eligible Training Provider (ETP) programs, which often are not subject to the same accountability systems that apply to many degree-granting programs. This brief is intended to serve as a resource for state leaders, including state labor agencies, state workforce boards, and governors and their staff, though the insights and case studies here can be helpful to a broader community of workforce development and economic mobility stakeholders. By making improvements in these areas, states can make participating in workforce training programs a better investment for the public and program participants.