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Bush to propose job-training overhaul

States would get more flexibility in return for more accountability



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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Bush will propose a major revamping of federally funded job-training programs Monday to double the number of people trained each year and cut administrative costs by more than half, senior administration officials said.

States will be given more flexibility in designing job-training programs in return for meeting new accountability standards, the officials said.

"Innovation training accounts" also will be introduced that will give workers a stipend they can use to upgrade skills on their own, they said.

Bush is expected to announce his job-training initiative Monday morning in a speech at Central Piedmont Community College in Charlotte, North Carolina.

A senior administration official said that despite the Labor Department reportexternal link last week showing that 308,000 jobs were created in March, Bush remains concerned that many unemployed workers lack the skills to fill some of the new jobs.

Among the jobs affected by such a "skills gap" are careers in health care, high technology, advanced manufacturing and education, the officials said.

The changes will affect two federally funded programs that provide job training for adults and displaced workers, and train about 206,000 people a year.

The administration's goal is to increase that number to 412,000, at a cost of $550 million.

Of that total, $300 million would come from cost savings realized by streamlining and consolidating existing programs in the $4 billion work force investment system, the officials said.

The additional $250 million is part of an initiative Bush previously announced to increase funding to community colleges, where much of the nation's work force training takes place.

About 35 percent of the funding for job-training efforts, which are administered by state and local agencies, is consumed by administrative costs for complying with federal mandates and duplicative programs, the officials said.

Governors have complained about the rules, which are so complex that some potential training providers have decided not to participate, the officials said.

Bush will propose capping those administrative costs at 15 percent and simplifying the mandates so that states can meet the new limits, the officials said.

In return, accountability standards would be put in place to monitor whether people how receive training actually get a job, how long they keep it and how much they earn, the officials said.

Programs could include innovation training accounts, in which federal job training money would be given to people to pay for their own training if they meet eligibility requirements, the officials said.


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