Examines public workforce development programs as they affect older workers, and provides policy recommendations for improvement to the workforce system.

This report “provides a selective review of public workforce development programs in the United States over the past 80 years. The report places special emphasis on the importance these programs have to older Americans. It discusses how the public workforce system developed, how it operates today, significant programs and target groups, common employment services and job training strategies, and what is known about program effectiveness. In some instances, the report speculates on how the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act of 2014 (WIOA) might influence such programs.

Particular attention is given to services benefitting dislocated workers (i.e., experienced adults permanently separated from their prior employers). The report includes evidence on the services found to work best and suggests policies and additional research to improve the public workforce system—especially for older workers” (p.1).

(Abstractor: Author and Website Staff)

Major Findings & Recommendations

Employment Services-related recommendations for the public workforce system include: • “Reduce reliance on automated self-services for older jobseekers by increasing staff-assisted services for assessment, screening, counseling, job search assistance, job referrals, and job development. • Provide staff-assisted services for older jobseekers who need individualized assistance. • Establish staff positions in American Job Centers for Older Worker Representatives to assist older job seekers. • Increase the use of job clubs for older workers and conduct evaluations of their effectiveness. • Increase funds for targeted reemployment services provided to unemployment insurance claimants. In-person assistance to permanently separated, experienced workers would be especially helpful to older workers” (p.3). Training-related recommendations include: • “Older-worker training should be targeted to the job skills in demand by local employers. Stronger guidance should be provided through staff-assisted counseling on the use of Individual Training Accounts. The training should concentrate on (1) high-demand and high-return occupations, (2) on-the-job training slots that can result in employment with significant earnings, and (3) customized training that can improve skills and may increase retention and earnings. • Training allowances are needed to help workers defray living expenses during longer training periods. Other supportive services (such as transportation and child or elder-care assistance) should also be available. Increased state flexibility to provide supportive services is contained in the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act. • Better assessment, including interviewing, testing, and counseling, would more effectively screen participants for training referrals for in-demand occupations. • Because of severely limited provision of more costly job training by the public workforce system, policy efforts should focus on providing more lower-cost, staff-assisted employment services” (p.3). (Abstractor: Author and Website Staff)