February 5, 2018
Director, Office of Management and Budget
725 17th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20503
Dear Director Mulvaney:
As you develop the Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 budget requests for the Departments of Labor and
Education, the Campaign to Invest in America’s Workforce (CIAW) urges you to include
adequate investments in workforce and education to meet the needs of businesses and workers.
CIAW is a diverse coalition of national organizations that offer direct services, advocacy,
research, and policy development to help people of all ages and conditions develop their skills,
enter gainful employment, and enroll and succeed in postsecondary education.
Congress continues to negotiate a budget agreement and funding levels for FY 2018, and the
administration’s budget request for FY 2019 offers the opportunity to reinforce the
administration’s commitment to meeting businesses’ skill needs and improving workforce
education and training opportunities for all workers.
Job creation has been a primary focus for this administration. In 2017, President Trump
described workforce development and vocational training as “very important” and supported
the goal of creating five million new apprenticeships in the next 5 years. Vice President Pence
committed to strengthening and expanding opportunities for career and technical training
across the country, and the Secretaries of Labor and Education have heralded the importance of job training and education (respectively) to develop the pipeline of workers businesses need.
Without adequate investment, however, it is impossible to realize the administration’s goals.
Today, businesses in nearly every state are struggling to find workers with necessary skills.
Middle skill jobs—those requiring more than a high school diploma, but not a four-year
degree—make up 53 percent of today’s labor market, but only 43 percent of U.S. workers are
trained at this level. At the same time, there are millions more low-skill workers than low-skill
jobs. With unemployment at just over four percent, this means filling vacant middle-skill jobs
will require training and upskilling workers across the country – the primary goal of the
nation’s workforce development system.
The workforce development system, and the workforce education and training programs that
rely on federal investments in this system, are crucial to workers’ ability to develop the skills
businesses need. Federal investments in the workforce system show significant returns on
investment, helping individuals get jobs, improve their earnings, and contribute to their local
economies in countless ways. Inadequate investment, though, leaves rural and urban businesses struggling to find workers with appropriate skills, and it leaves workers without meaningful pathways to better-paying jobs.
As states and local areas work desperately to meet the needs of local industry and workers,
diminishing federal support means even fewer businesses have access to workers with the skills
• In Louisville, Kentucky, the workforce development board is tasked with serving seven
area counties. In the past year, they have been forced to close workforce centers serving
six of those seven because of insufficient federal investment.
• Near Syracuse, New York, Adult Educators are restricted to serving less than ten percent
of eligible participants because of draconian cuts to federal investments over the past
• And in Southeast Michigan, just one region contributing to the more than two-million
unfilled manufacturing jobs across the country, recipients of federal funding describe
having reached a “tipping point” at which further cuts no longer mean fewer services
for fewer people, but will mean providers can no long offer any services to an area of the
country with significant demand for skilled workers.
Yet even as funding for the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) has declined
by 43 percent, funding for secondary and postsecondary Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs by 34 percent, and funding for Adult Education by 21 percent since 2001, programs using these funds have seen successful returns on diminishing investments. Indeed, WIOA, authorized in 2014, is stimulating both innovation and opportunity:
• In Chicago, Illinois, one WIOA service provider recorded a return on investment (ROI)
of $4.85 for every dollar of federal investment.
• In Raleigh, North Carolina a youth program documented an ROI of $14.48 for every
dollar of federal investment.
• The Coalition on Adult Basic Education (COABE) reports that every
adult education student in Washington State is required to be on a dedicated
college and career pathway to living wage employment and new WIOA programming
now provides students with the opportunity to develop skills to be college ready.
• A cost-benefit analysis of YouthBuild’s targeted intervention program aimed at youthful
offenders found (1) evidence of reduced recidivism and improved education outcomes,
and (2) a positive benefit-to-cost ratio, showing that every dollar spent on every courtinvolved
youth is estimated to produce a minimum return of $10.80.
Investments in secondary and post-secondary education have provided similar returns to the
U.S. economy. In Wisconsin, taxpayers receive $12.20 in returns for every dollar invested in the
technical college system, and research has repeatedly shown that these investments result in
increased tax revenue and heightened civic engagement across the country.
And a recent report by economists at Columbia University demonstrates the significant return
on investment for national service programs like the Corporation for National and Community
Service’s AmeriCorps program and related activities: every dollar invested in national service
generates almost $4 in returns to society in terms of higher earnings, increased output, and
other community-wide benefits.
Far from being outliers, results like these are common across workforce and education
programs funded under the Departments of Labor and Education budgets. And these returns
mean a healthier U.S. economy for our workers and our businesses.
Before we can see the returns, though, this administration must make adequate investments.
CIAW urges you to make the following investments to prepare workers for jobs in the future as
well as those U.S. businesses are trying desperately to fill today.
1. Fully fund the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act: In 2014, Congress
overwhelmingly approved WIOA to modernize our workforce system and make it more
responsive to industry. In 2015, programs authorized under WIOA served nearly 7
million young people and adults, exceeded employment targets across all programs, and
helped more than 1.5 million individuals (including English language learners) gain
skills and credentials to help them succeed in the labor market. Yet, as investments in
WIOA formula and national programs continue to decline, the modernization necessary
to meet business needs becomes impossible. To continue offering workers these
opportunities to develop skills necessary to meet business demands, the administration
• Fund WIOA Title I employment and training programs at authorized levels so states,
local areas, and other partners can fully realize the bipartisan vision outlined by
WIOA and bring more out-of-school youth productively into the workforce;
• Fund adult education and literacy programs under Title II of WIOA at least at
authorized levels to ensure that the 36 million Americans with low basic skills can
take advantage of existing and emerging economic opportunities;
• Fund Wagner-Peyser Employment Services (ES) activities under Title III of WIOA at
current-year levels to give states the additional resources they need to provide
WIOA’s intensive reemployment services;
• Fund the vocational rehabilitation program and other employment services
authorized under WIOA Title IV for adults and students with disabilities;
2. Request necessary funding to support CTE: Congress is poised to reauthorize the Carl
D. Perkins Act, which funds secondary and postsecondary CTE programs and supports
the development and implementation of high-quality programs that combine rigorous
academic content with occupational skills training. CTE programs serve 11.8 million
secondary and postsecondary learners per year. Participating in a CTE program
decreases the risk of students dropping out of high school, and all 50 states and the
District of Columbia report higher graduation rates for CTE students compared to all
students. In fact, the graduation rate for students who take a concentration of CTE
courses is about 93 percent, approximately 10 percent higher than the national average.
The administration should fund CTE state grants at least at $1.3 billion to support CTE
programs aligned to needs of business and industry.
3. Sustain federal investment to support students paying for college: Community and
technical colleges are uniquely positioned to help train the next generation of American
workers and to address the educational challenges created by emerging industries and
technological advancements. Students attending these schools can receive a degree or
credential in an in-demand field for a fraction of the cost of attending other institutions;
saving an estimated $3,520 on a degree or certificate. Yet, even with this significant
savings, tuition and other costs associated with these programs are often prohibitively
expensive for the workers most in need of skills training. The administration should:
• Preserve existing investments in Pell Grants, including the current reserve fund,
to ensure that the more than 2.8 million low-income community college students
receiving this critical financial assistance can continue to pursue their education;
• Invest in partnerships between businesses, adult and secondary education
providers, and other stakeholders to ensure that students can obtain industryrecognized
credentials through programming that facilitates the success of
today’s nontraditional students.
4. Align workforce and education with investments in work based learning and
apprenticeship: Last year, the President signed an Executive Order tasking the
Department of Labor with expanding apprenticeship and work-based learning across
the country. The administration should request funding adequate to ensure a diverse
pipeline of workers have access to high-quality work-based learning opportunities that
lead to good jobs. These programs reinforce employee engagement, lead to better
morale, higher retention and lower turnover. For workers in need of training, these
programs offer an onramp to a career pathway that includes a paying job from the start.
Structured on-the-job learning enables workers to efficiently develop the skills needed to
be productive. The administration should request at least $95 million for the Department
of Labor, in consultation with the Department of Education, to invest in expanding
access to high-quality apprenticeship and work-based learning programs.
5. Maintain support for data collection on program effectiveness: Education and
workforce data are essential for monitoring program effectiveness and guiding program
improvement, which are particularly important in a constrained budget environment.
Improved state data systems are imperative to demonstrate how WIOA strategies like
sector partnerships and career pathways are helping participants obtain employment
and enabling employers to meet their skilled workforce needs. The administration
should request funding at no less than current year levels for DOL’s Workforce Data
Quality Initiative and Department of Education’s State Longitudinal Data Systems
6. Invest in job training and employment services for all workers: The Senior
Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP) is a critical component in our
country’s workforce development strategy and helps unemployed older adults develop
new skills and work experiences through work-based learning assignments in their
communities. Despite entering the program with multiple barriers to employment,
thousands of older adults from every state found jobs last year through SCSEP and are
now contributing to the workforces of the nearly 5,400 private and public-sector
employers who recently hired SCSEP participants. In addition to older workers, the
Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program helps more than 21,000 homeless veteran’
reintegrate into the workforce annually. The program enables veterans to secure stable
housing and employment through holistic, veteran-centered community services. The
• Fund the job training and employment services for older workers (Senior
Community Service Employment Program) at no less than current year levels;
• Maintain the proposed funding increase for employment services for at-risk
veterans (Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program);
It is critical for this administration to invest in the skills of our nation’s workforce, so that
workers can support themselves and their families and enable businesses have access to the
skilled workers they need to compete in the global economy. We urge the Administration to
support the workforce development and education systems with the resources necessary to
continue to meet this vital need.
If you have questions about this letter, please contact Kermit Kaleba at
KermitK@nationalskillscoaltion.org. Thank you for your attention to these important matters.
American Association of Community College Trustees
American Association of Community Colleges
Association for Career and Technical Education
Association of Farmworker Opportunity Programs
Augustus F. Hawkins Foundation
California Workforce Association
Coalition for Adult Basic Education
Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP)
Goodwill Industries International, Inc.
Indiana Workforce Board Association
International Economic Development Council
Jobs for the Future
Maryland Workforce Association
Massachusetts Workforce Board Association
Michigan Works! Association
National Alliance for Partnerships in Equity (NAPE)
National Association of Counties
National Association of Development Organizations
National Association of Regional Councils
National Association of Workforce Boards
National Association of State Workforce Agencies
National Council on Aging (NCOA)
National Council for Workforce Education
National Skills Coalition
National Youth Employment Coalition
New York Association of Training and Employment Professionals
North Carolina Association of Workforce Development Boards
Oregon Workforce Partnership
Pennsylvania Workforce Development Association
Rocky Mountain Workforce Development Association
Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law
Texas Association of Workforce Boards
United States Workforce Association
United Way Worldwide
Workforce Data Quality Campaign
February 5, 2018