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Aiding Welfare-to-work Transitions: Lessons from JTPA on the Cost-effectiveness of Education and Training Services

Carolyn Heinrich

JCPR Working Papers from Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research

Abstract: A growing consensus is emerging that under PRWORA, more disadvantaged welfare recipients are failing to retain jobs and are not earning enough to rise above the poverty level, even when working full-time. In this study, I draw primarily on the experiences of welfare recipients who participated in JTPA programs to address the central research question: What are the most cost-effective education and training services to aid individuals making the transition from welfare to economic self-sufficiency? The study findings suggest that if afforded access, formal on-the-job training and vocational training in technical/professional fields might substantially and cost-effectively increase the labor market success of more disadvantaged TANF recipients. Before or while they are engaged in these training activities, however, they need to acquire the basic educational skills that will enable their success in training and unsubsidized employment. Younger participants with little or no work experience or labor attachment, (and lower opportunity costs of participating), should be targeted for these services.

Date: 1998-10-01
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