$2,000 would likely cover the cost of an appropriate program of part‐time courses. The focus would be on basic skills; this is not meant to replace Pell Grants in funding post‐secondary education and the menu of approved providers and training opportunities would be explicitly linked to development of basic skills. The training account would allow for part‐time and intermittent enrollment for up to five years, in recognition of the reality that many workers will find their training interrupted for life events.
Counselors at existing One‐Stop Centers would assess eligibility of applicants based on documented work histories. We would require evidence of two years of recent continuous employment to qualify for this one‐time benefit. Workers who are currently employed and have two years of continuous history would be eligible. Unlike most other federal training programs, workers could access these new resources while they are employed. The new training resource thus becomes in a sense a (lumpy) supplement to the earned income tax credit—lumpy in that a worker becomes eligible for the full amount of support after two years of labor force attachment. Counselors at the One‐Stop centers would track participants to ensure progress, and documentation of training would be required to receive the second installment of $2,000 in training support and to maintain access to the individual training account. These new demands on counselors at one‐stop centers means that the full cost of this proposal would include additional resources for one‐stop centers and counselors. Offering the new training program to one million workers each year would have an annual cost of about $2.4 billion including $2 billion for the vouchers and an additional 20 percent for overhead at one‐stop centers.
Our proposal does not include a “funding source.” While there is considerable duplication in the existing training structure and thus likely scope for redirecting some of the existing federal spending on training, we are realistic that the existing spending including duplication is not accidental and that there are advocates for each program. It would be useful to reduce this duplication, but we do not count on that to fund the new training initiative.
Research by James Heckman and co‐authors (e.g. Cunha, Heckman, Lochner and Masterov, 2006) suggests that non‐cognitive ability is important for labor market success and