Policy Brief: The Impact of Welfare Reform to Employers

  By Michael D. Van Stine









For most welfare recipients, the transfer to self-sufficiency almost always involves obtaining employment. (Only a small percentage -- less than one percent -- of those transitioning from welfare who successfully start, let alone maintain, their own independent businesses.) Consequently, successful employment outcomes are at the core of successful transition from welfare dependency. Long term successful employment outcomes must help workers find and keep better jobs. They must also involve new strategies to integrate immediate employment with shorter-term skill building. These individuals represent a huge opportunity for employers whom increasingly need to find alternative pools of eligible entry-level job applicants. Employers can also benefit from hiring welfare to work employees in many other substantial ways.

Myths Dispelled and Needs Understood

There are many myths surrounding welfare dependency and a misperception of the needs these potential workers have to achieve self-sufficiency. In reality, note the following facts documented by the Washington, D.C. based Urban Institute:

    • 70% of welfare recipients have recent work experience.

    • The typical welfare family is a single mother with two children.

    • Welfare recipients are fairly evenly distributed among the major racial groups:

    • 37% African-American

    • 36% Caucasian

    • 21% Hispanic

    • 58% of recipients have at least a high school degree:

    • 16% have some post-secondary education

    • 42% are high school graduates (or GED)

The real challenge for most recipients is not getting a job; it is getting either the right job and keeping that job, or getting a starter job and keeping that job long enough to become the right job. Lack of proper education and training, child care, health care and transportation make it tough for recipients to stay in the labor market.

In two recent studies, one completed by the Welfare to Work Partnership, a membership-based national association of approximately 10,000 businesses and one, a 1998 Business Work-Life study, the following was collectively observed:

    o 67 percent of member companies of the partnership say their company or industry faces a labor shortage. Two-thirds of employers find it difficult to fill highly skilled jobs and two-fifths have difficulty filling entry-level jobs.

    o 66 percent complain that they cannot find enough employees to fill entry-level positions from welfare to work populations.

    o 94 percent of employers who have hired someone on welfare would hire another recipient in the future.

    o 82 percent say that former welfare recipients are "good, productive employees".

    o 65 percent say that welfare recipients have the same or higher retention rates than do employees hired through traditional channels.

    o 72 percent hire welfare recipients for full-time positions.

    o Business partners have promoted 33 percent of the welfare recipients they have hired.

    o 65 percent have seen no change in overall costs as a result of hiring welfare recipients.

    o Companies as diverse as Salomon Smith Barney and UPS have found that welfare to work programs reduce turnover and related cost.

    o 85 percent of employers report that providing child care and transportation services improved employee recruitment. About one in three working parents is willing to trade salary and benefits for work-family programs that fit their needs.

    o Almost two-thirds of employers found that providing child care and transportation services reduced turnover by thirty-seven to sixty percent.

    o 54 percent of employers report that child care and transportation services reduced employee absenteeism by as much as twenty to thirty percent.

    o 49 percent of employers reported that child care and other support services had helped boost employee productivity. 76 percent of larger companies (those with 50 or more employees) report employee transportation is a problem.

On the specific subject of transportation barriers, according to a study by the U.S. Department of Transportation's Volpe Institute, only 6 percent of TANF households own a car. Moreover, the average value of these cars is only $620, meaning they must be presumed to be unreliable. They are frequently uninsured and unregistered. The study also concluded that only 43% of entry-level jobs are accessible by public transportation and that three-fourths of families receiving public assistance live in inner city neighborhoods or rural areas, while 66 percent of appropriate job openings are in the suburbs.

In a study by Case Western Reserve University's Center on Urban Poverty and Social Change, looking at transit patterns in Cleveland area neighborhoods, welfare recipients who commuted up to 40 minutes one way on public transit could reach only between 8 and 15 percent of jobs. Increasing one way commuting time to as high as 80 minutes reached only 44 percent of jobs. Over half of the jobs could not be reached within 80 minutes or even at all using public transportation.

In a companion study completed by Shirley M. Loveless, a Transportation Consultant with the University of Pennsylvania, data was gathered surrounding Delaware Valley commuting. In her study, she plotted a total of 864 trips between three Philadelphia neighborhoods and 38 employment centers in Delaware and Montgomery Counties (not even touching the more difficult bi-state commuting odyssey and purposely choosing the two PA counties with the most developed SEPTA service). With this regional "stacked deck", she chose three Philadelphia neighborhoods as commute locations that were all central community locations and ones relatively well-served by transit. They were:

      North Philadelphia: Rising Sun and Adams Avenues

      South Philadelphia: Tasker Avenue and 30th Street

      West Philadelphia: 48th Street and Parkside Avenue

She also used SEPTA route maps and the most recent available schedules as of June, 1999. In her study, she modeled the most time-efficient route for each commute.*

(*Where this involved using the regional rail and would incur substantial expense, an alternative route was modeled, if one was feasible. In some cases, this was not possible-the alternative did not exist. Additional alternative routes were modeled for some commutes, if taking one route was most time efficient for the work trip, for example, but another route was more time-efficient for the return trip.)

She correctly distinguished between "travel time" and "trip time" in her survey, in order to calculate both the gap between the latest possible arrival at work and the actual start of work and the "dwell time" if you will, the time spent between trip transfers and actual time spent in motion. Of the 864 modeled trips, 89 (slightly more than 10 percent) fail entirely because transit service is not available when needed for at least one trip link. This is extremely important because the failure of either the outbound or inbound trip means, in most cases, that the commute fails. It does no good to have one-way transit service. Of the remaining 775, total trip times ranged from 38 minutes to 240 minutes (4 hours). In many cases, the next earlier transit service for the inbound trip or the next later service for the outbound trip failed by as little as one minute. This necessitated a long wait for the next scheduled service in the case of the trip home or leaving home much earlier for the trip outbound. Other trips were unavoidably lengthened by long waits because of inefficient connections. The study's key conclusions were:

      Mean one-way trip time: 112 minutes (1hr.52 min.)

      Median one-way trip time:109 minutes (1hr. 49 min.)

      Mode: 89 minutes (1hr. 29 min.)

Of the feasible 775 trips, only 39 were less than 60 minutes, one way and only 61 trips were less than 75 minutes, one-way.

It is true that most new workers from welfare dependency face significant barriers to successful employment. Some indeed have no work history at all and/or spotty work histories at best. Many face the hardships of depression, substance abuse, domestic violence, the lack of a two-parent family collaborative, inadequate child care options, no access to independent transportation and inadequate skill development. However, there are substantial resources available to welfare recipients and employers to combat these obstacles and develop a productive and stable workforce with those transitioning from welfare to work.

Low Wage vs. No Wage

The national income support system makes work pay and is providing a realistic hope of recipients' move out of poverty. Today, by working full time at the minimum wage and supplementing her earnings with tax credits, food stamps and other public assistance, a mother with two children can bring her family's income to almost 120% of the poverty level. This is the upside of supplements that include TANF, food stamps, the Earned Income Tax Credit, and housing, child care, transportation and Medicaid. At the same time, the consequences of not working are potentially devastating, since families unwilling or unable to work may lose all of their welfare payments. The central finding of another Urban Institute study across six states concluded that "low income single mothers are significantly better off working, even at minimum wage, than relying solely on welfare, but they gain little from raising their wage rate from $5.15 to $9.00 per hour. Thus, at least initially and for up to a minimum of one year, both the employer and welfare to work employee of an entry-level job benefit.

However, at $9.00 per hour (or about $19,000 annually), they will fall short of the needed approximate $14.00 per hour (or about $30,000 annually) they will ultimately need for self- sufficiency without external supports.

Education and Training

Education and training for welfare recipients is essential for promoting self-sufficiency. In the current work-first environment, welfare recipients are obtaining jobs but not earning enough to support themselves without additional benefits. While some attempts at training have been unsuccessful, new training models are being developed that do help participants earn more and retain their jobs. Training activities such as these need to be encouraged if welfare recipients are to become self-sufficient.

Improving welfare recipients' skills through well-designed training is necessary not only to help them become self-sufficient, but also because the economy needs more skilled workers. A 1998 Pennsylvania State University study found that 63 percent of Pennsylvania CEOs sited finding qualified, skilled workers as their biggest problem. Statewide, there are job opportunities in higher level fields that are going unfilled because there is a shortage of workers. This situation will only worsen with time as Pennsylvania's population ages, the supply of working-age individuals decreases, and even more high-tech jobs are created. Already, Pennsylvania has become the fourth oldest state in America. Over the next twenty years, the number of people under fifty will decrease and the number of people from 50 to 70 will increase. It is therefore essential that every person in the state be working up to potential.

Education is Necessary for Higher Wages

The primary reason why individuals leaving welfare need education and training from the employee side, is that educational attainment is highly correlated with wages. The average annual wage for women in jobs requiring advanced or superior skills, equivalent to those of people who have bachelor's degrees, is $32,000. Women with competent skills, the equivalent of having some post-secondary education short of a bachelor's degree, earn an average of $23,000, and women with basic skills, the equivalent of high school graduates, earn $19,000 per year. Finally, women with minimal skills, similar to those of high school dropouts, earn $15,000 per year.

Employment trends among former welfare recipients demonstrate the need for finding new training methods to promote skill advancement. Two thirds of welfare recipients have minimal or basic skills that allow them to make, on average, no more than $19,000 per year. The remaining one third have competent, advanced, or superior skills, but even among this group, individuals would need additional training to provide them with the formal credentials that are necessary for higher paying jobs. Because training is not provided, former welfare recipients' average wages are between $5.00 and $8.00 per hour, far below the self-sufficiency standard for women with children. The Educational Testing Service estimates that it would take 200 hours of training, or the equivalent of one semester at a community college, to bring somebody with basic skills to the competent level.

Moving Up is a New York City program that utilizes a combined strategy for employee development and retention including on-going training. Sixty-three percent of Moving Up participants are still employed after two years (higher than for most training programs) and hourly wages rose from an average of $7.32 to $7.98 after twelve months and to $8.63 after two years. While these gains are modest, and they do not alleviate the need for external on-going support to produce self-sufficiency, they do demonstrate that training, if properly designed, can help welfare-recipients move toward self-sufficiency over time.

Long-run success is also directly affected by short-run job retention. One study of a welfare to work program shows that employment status three months after completing the program is a good predictor of the net earnings effect during the entire two-and-a-half follow-up period.

The short run matters so much because many welfare recipients face such direct problems with job retention. At one welfare to work program, Project Match in Chicago, researchers found that 46 percent of the program clients lost their first job by three months, 60 percent by six months, and 73 percent by twelve months.

This poor job retention is not due primarily to inadequate technical or "hard" skills. Welfare recipients generally lose jobs because of absenteeism and punctuality, or because of conflicts with supervisors and co-workers. The one "hard skill" deficiency that is frequently mentioned is problems with running a cash register.

Job retention problems occur in part because many welfare recipients find the circumstances of low-wage jobs to be unfamiliar. The usual daily activities of an unemployed welfare recipient are comprised of child care and home care, with no supervisors or co-workers to accommodate, and with the welfare recipient controlling her own schedule.

Some types of jobs might lead to greater job retention for welfare recipients because occupations or industries differ in pressure for timely completion of tasks, the strictness of supervision, and interactions with co-workers or customers. Occupations or industries also differ in whether the skills required have much in common with child care or home care. Some occupations and industries may better tolerate substandard performance while the new worker adjusts to the job. Finally, higher wages or benefits make an otherwise bad job easier to endure.

Employer Incentives

How can employers accomplish the goals of welfare to work workforce development? To start, Federal, state and local governments have long used tax incentives to encourage specific business practices. The Federal government offers six key incentives to businesses to encourage them to hire and train welfare recipients:

    1) The Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC);

    2) The Welfare to Work Tax Credit;

    3) The work supplementation program offered under the current welfare law;

    4) On-the-Job Training (OJT) offered under Welfare to Work Programs and under the Workforce Investment Act (WIA); and

    5) Specific tax credits for hiring in federally designated Empowerment Zones and Enterprise Communities.

    6) TEA-21 credits for transportation assistance and tax deductible business expenses for employer-sponsored child care centers.

In addition, every state offers its own tax incentives. Pennsylvania offers the Employer Incentive Payment Program (EIPP).

The Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) is a federal income tax credit reauthorized and amended by the October 21 Tax and Trade Relief Extension Act of 1998. It encourages employers to hire eight targeted groups of job seekers who begin work any time after June 30, 1998, and before July 1, 1999. It is expected to be extended for another year, and employers are encouraged to continue processing vouchers for employees hired after July 1, 1999. If an employee qualifies as a member of a targeted group, the employer may claim income tax credits based upon the number of hours the employee works in the year. First, for employees who work at least 120 hours but less than 400 hours, employers may claim 25% of the employee's first-year wages, up to $6,000 for a maximum tax credit of $1,500. Second, for employees who work at least 400 hours, employers may claim 40% of the employees' first year wages, up to $6,000, for a maximum credit of $2,400. There is no credit allowable for employees who work less than 120 hours. For the twelve month period ending September 30, 1998, more than 285,000 WOTC certifications were issued as a result of employer requests compared to 126,000 certifications issued the previous year.

The Welfare-to-Work Tax Credit is a federal income tax credit that encourages employers to hire long-term welfare recipients who begin work any time after December 31, 1997, and before June 30, 1999. It was also extended by the October 21 Tax and Trade Relief Extension Act of 1998, sections 1002 and 1003. Under this program, during the first year of employment, employers can claim 35% of employees' first-year wages up to $10,000 for a maximum credit of $3,500. During the second year, employers can claim 50% of employees' wages up to $10,000, for a maximum tax credit of $5,000. Thus, the maximum credit is $8,500 if the employees are retained two years. More than 46,000 certifications were issued as a result of employer requests during the tax credit's first nine months of existence ending September 30, 1998.

If employees qualify for both the WOTC and the Welfare to Work Tax Credits, employers must choose one or the other. They cannot claim both.

The new federal welfare law gives states the option to create a work supplementation program (also called wage subsidy and grant diversion). Currently, 22 states have enacted work supplementation programs. Work Supplementation allows an employer to receive TANF and food stamp funds that would have otherwise gone to the family. The employer by law is required to pay at least the minimum wage to any welfare recipient hired, so the employer must add in additional funds necessary to bring the wage to the minimum.

On-the-Job Training (OJT) is a program funded in various state and local jurisdictions, either under local welfare to work strategies or as a part of a jurisdictions workforce development plan under the Workforce Investment Act of 1998. Typically, OJT subsidies cover 50% of wages for up to six months.

Empowerment Zones and Enterprise Communities (EZ/EC) are initiatives designed to promote economic growth and physical revitalization of urban and rural communities plagued by chronic poverty and unemployment. Businesses in EZ/EC communities are entitled to targeted tax incentives designed to foster job creation, stimulate investment and attract new business development. Using the Wage Tax Credit of an EZ/EC, employers in an EZ/EC who hire residents who reside in an EZ/EC community can access credits equal to 20% of the first $15,000 of wages or training expenses paid.

The Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21) permits employers to receive tax benefits for providing certain types of employee transportation benefits called "Qualified Transportation Fringes". Under TEA-21, effective January 1, 1998, employers can let employees set aside up to $65 a month, $780 a year, of their salary before taxes to pay for transit and vanpool commuting, and qualified parking expenses up to $175 a month, or $2,100 a year. The transit allowance will increase to $100 a month effective January 1, 2002. Since the amount of the employee's salary used for this purpose is not taxed, a tax savings of over 30% over the cost of a similar take-home salary increase, incentive or bonus may be possible. This can result in a monetary savings of over $200 a year if the maximum of $780 is set aside. In addition, the employer saves money by reducing payroll costs since the amount set aside is exempt from employer paid payroll taxes (at least 7.65%) and contributions into 401 (k) accounts, a combined savings of about 10% on average. Employers incur no cost in offering the pre-tax benefit, and often find this type of program very easy to set up and administer.

Child care assistance provided by an employer is a tax-deductible expense. Amounts paid by an employer to provide child care services for employees may be deductible as ordinary business expenses under IRC Section 162 as the services reduce absenteeism and turnover; aid in recruitment and retention of employees and increase productivity for the employer. Amounts paid by an employer to a welfare benefit fund, such as the Volunteer Employees' Beneficiary Association (VEBA) 501 (c) (9), may also be deductible. An employer may be entitled to a charitable contribution deduction for donating to a qualified tax-exempt child care organization. Costs incurred for acquiring, constructing, and/or remodeling a building to be used as a child care center can be depreciated over a thirty-nine year period under the Modified Cost Recovery System described in IRC Section 168. Costs of equipping the building can be depreciated over varying periods. Start-up and investigatory expenses incurred in the development of a new child care center may be amortized over 60 months or more under IRC section 195. Eligible expenses may include costs for advertising, needs assessments, consultant services and staff training. The center itself may be established as tax-exempt 501 (c) (3) organization..

Many states have their own state-based incentives. In Pennsylvania, the state offers two programs, a state tax credit for hiring individuals among targeted groups and state tax credit programs for neighborhood initiatives under the Neighborhood Assistance Program. The former permits a declining percentage (30% to 10%) of an employees first $6,000 annual wages from years one to three and the latter permits up to 50% credits against state taxes where employers promote support services via state approved providers, including transportation and child care assistance.

There are also compelling indirect financial incentives and other indirect gains to motivate and help businesses to hire welfare recipients who are ready, willing and able to work:

    o Companies achieve positive bottom-line results by solving recruitment and turnover problems when they hire motivated, hard-working new employees from any source.

    o The productivity of existing employees increases because implementing a welfare to work program builds a sense of pride and service among employees.

    o Companies reduce social costs and improve their local economies by shrinking community dependence on public assistance.

    o Prosperous communities build additional demand for products and services.

    o Participation in the welfare to work initiative signals a corporate willingness to strengthen American families and communities.

    o Welfare to Work employees can obtain the offset assistance, including subsidized child care, medical benefits and transportation that make entry-level jobs attractive to them.

Challenges to Welfare Reform

Returning to the challenges, political and economic factors have accelerated the rate at which employers have hired people off of welfare.

    o The "push" of federal legislation is increasing the number of welfare recipients seeking work. The Personal Responsibility and Work Reconciliation Act (PRWRA) limits lifetime welfare participation and places a clear priority on labor market attachment, known as "work first", rather than longer-term education and training strategies

    o The "pull" of a shortage of qualified entry-level employees is forcing employers to seek new sources of labor. Tight markets combined with rising employer demand for basic and soft skills in entry-level positions have prompted employers to look to new sources of potential employees, including the welfare population. For most of the 1990's, the demand for qualified entry-level employees has increased more quickly than the supply. During the last five years, the number of companies reporting skills shortages has doubled. In addition, the literacy, numeracy, communications and teamwork skills demanded by employers have increased. In this environment, many employers are experimenting with new ways to find qualified, entry-level staff, reduce turnover and improve productivity.

    o Welfare has traditionally provided income to poor families with dependent children. Consequently, adult welfare recipients are overwhelmingly female, between the ages of 20 and 45, single heads of household with two dependent children with as many as one third having children under the age of three and they are overwhelmingly concentrated in either the nation's cities or in rural areas. This accounts for the mismatch of between where the recipients live and where the jobs are, as well as why inadequate child care and transportation options act as a virtual barrier to employment.

    o As a group, welfare recipients face serious skill shortages. As before mentioned, at least 42% lack a high school degree, and many have a degree and are still functionally illiterate. A sizeable minority have physical and other disabilities that make work difficult. One-third have never held a job for longer than six months. According to one estimate, only 10 percent of the welfare population is skilled enough to advance beyond entry-level work.

    o As the welfare system becomes more work-centered, welfare and workforce policy are becoming more closely linked.

    o The success of a work-centered welfare policy is linked necessarily to the dynamics of the low-wage, low-skill labor market.

    o Transportation and child care assistance must be maintained over time for short-term and medium-term retention success.

Lessons Learned So Far

From employers, much has been learned. As noted, many employers are hiring welfare recipients. Members of the Welfare to Work partnership have hired almost 500,000 former welfare recipients to date. Participation has been dominated by larger firms in a few industries. However, two thirds of smaller firms that used local intermediary organizations to recruit candidates for employment reported hiring welfare recipients and small firms have a much higher ratio of welfare hires to total hires than do larger firms. There is potential for continued expansion of employer participation, particularly among smaller businesses even if there is a slowing of economic growth. Most employers focus primarily on recruitment and hiring, but strategies to improve retention are becoming more common -- and they are receiving support from public policy.

Most past efforts at training have had little effect on improving recipients' skills. As noted, a new and effective method of training needs to be developed in order to provide welfare recipients with the necessary skills for advancement and success. Fewer than half of programs that emphasized basic education and GED receipt help participants find better jobs, and the majority of participants in these programs do not receive GEDs. Even among those who receive GEDs, studies suggest that there is no employment-related benefit unless they go on to receive further education, which most do not.

On the other hand, the quick-employment programs that are popular under work-first also do not promote self-sufficiency. These types of programs gained support because they were found to be cheaper and have greater short-term effects on employment than basic-skills education, but their effects are only short-term. Participants in the programs experience some earnings and employment increases for two to three years, but program impacts disappear after that point. In evaluations of Los Angeles GAIN, a quick-attachment job placement program for welfare recipients, participants' incomes were found to be comprised of a larger proportion of earnings after involvement in the program, but their overall incomes did not rise. Quick-attachment programs help people become employed in the short run, but they do not help them to retain and advance in their jobs, which is essential for becoming self-sufficient.

Therefore, if self-sufficiency is the goal of welfare and workforce development legislation, new mechanisms need to be developed to help welfare recipients not only find jobs, but also keep and advance in them. The disappointing outcomes from previous programs does not mean that training and education, in theory, is a flawed mechanism for promoting job advancement. It is still necessary to raise recipients' marketable skills through training. The challenge is developing training and education programs that work.

 In a study made undertaken by Jobs for the Future, interviewing 19 leading companies about their welfare to work activities yielded the following conclusions:

    o The primary motivation for employer participation is to meet business objectives;

    o Employers feel they are getting a number of significant business benefits from hiring welfare to work candidates. These include access to an expanded labor pool, reduced turnover and increased motivation and loyalty among new hires, as well as the "risk" subsidies provided by tax credits and other incentive.

    o Employers identify several challenges to expanding their efforts. These include: how well local service providers can customize activities to meet their needs; the need for quality screening and referral of potential hires, given the poor job-readiness of the emerging pool; perceived inflexibility of welfar3e and workforce development agencies; the time and resource commitment to develop new programs and the complexity of integrating services needed by many welfare recipients into a firm's existing human resource practices.

    o Community based partnerships are critical for success.

    o Successful initiatives require strategic planning and high-level corporate commitment.

    o Local partnerships can simplify and strengthen employer efforts to hire welfare recipients who can succeed.

    o Productivity and employer satisfaction can be increased by greater emphasis on post-placement services for new hires.

    o Companies frequently find it advantageous to integrate efforts for welfare recipients into their overall human resource practices

    On the public policy side, the JFF study highlighted five policy priorities in government policy and practice needed to expand and sustain welfare to work initiatives as follows:

    o Change policies and funding to better balance "work first" and effective long term skill development strategies, with a particular emphasis on pre-employment skill development programs customized in response to the needs of specific employers, and skill advancement strategies while individuals are employed, including access to career planning, innovative partnerships with education and training providers; more on-the-job training opportunities for all entry-level employees and support for additional training credentials.

    o Increase public investment in activities that support the decision to work, e.g. provide additional resources to help pay for on-the-job support services, transportation, child care, substance abuse services and other activities that can make work more viable for welfare recipients.

    o Create and expand income supplements for low wage workers, such as the gradual expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit, which supplements wages of the working poor, rewarding them for work and raising their effective earnings through the tax system.

    o Remake the culture of the public-sector welfare system, funding efforts to accelerate and support the transition from government from the role of simple administrator of income maintenance to that of a partner in promoting work, with responsibility for setting performance standards, developing accountability systems and strengthening partnerships with the private sector and non-profit community organizations.

    o Provide public support to build the capacity of local intermediary organizations, including public funding to promote the engagement of employers and their partners in both governance structures and in a one-stop delivery system for both employers, employees and service providers.


There are many myths surrounding welfare recipients as potential workers and employers have had much success in hiring employees from welfare populations. There are numerous incentives for employers to hire from welfare populations. In the short term (less than one year), both the employer and employee in an entry-level job benefit, with the employer getting an employee who is receiving benefit supplements making the job much closer to true self-sufficiency. However, it is critical that these supports exist, including on-going support for transportation and child care. Employers have to participate is designing transportation solutions that can reasonably get workers to their places of employment with reasonable commutes.

Despite the problems with past efforts at training, the goal of developing effective training strategies is beginning to be met. Helping welfare recipients improve their skills both before and after initial employment is still the best way to ensure that they receive higher-paying jobs. A new model of training that combines basic skills education with job preparation, pre-employment, and post-employment support is an effective method to help welfare recipients retain jobs and advance in jobs in a way that past programs did not.

Training programs that tie basic skills education to employment and provides comprehensive pre- and post- employment services have been found to produce very good retention and advancement results. Training in this model closely ties basic education to job skills, emphasizes businesslike standards within the program (timeliness, appropriate dress, etc.) in order to prepare students for the expectations they will encounter in the workplace, and provides career counseling and job placement services to students during the time that they are completing their basic education. It also provides post-employment support to participants to monitor their progress in their jobs, identify and resolve employment-related problems, provide immediate reemployment services if individuals lose their jobs, and help identify and promote further training and advancement opportunities.

The shortage of skilled workers in Pennsylvania, and in the nation as a whole, combined with the goal of helping welfare recipients become self-sufficient, necessitates promoting skill attainment among low-income workers through effective training programs.


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Revised 10/27/99