More than a year after the city’s Human Resources Administration started implementing the most expensive and ambitious welfare-to-work training initiative in the nation, over 15,000 New Yorkers on public assistance have found jobs. But pressure from the city to hurry people off of welfare and into work is forcing some trainers either to place their clients into jobs they’re not ready for, or face a financial crunch.
In “The Workforce Challenge: To Place is to Win,” the first major study of this system to date, the Center for an Urban Future details the restrictions placed on job trainers who contract with the city, and the insufficient services offered to welfare recipients who need the most help in holding down a job. The study by CUF, sister organization to City Limits, does find a few changes for the better: HRA’s policy of compensating its job trainers only after a client is hired rather than for every person who walks in the door has put the focus on end results–getting individuals jobs–rather than just offering classroom training and other services. However, if those trainers who work with the hardest clients–whose lack of skills and other barriers to employment require more time and effort–cannot find a way to meet costs until their compensation comes through, they might withdraw from the program, leaving the neediest clients behind.