WASHINGTON (AP) _ The education and labor secretaries pledged Wednesday to improve coordination of the job training programs their departments handle, but they objected to creating a new umbrella agency to run them.
″There are an awful lot of programs that could be better coordinated,″ said Labor Secretary William Brock. He and Education Secretary William Bennett, told the Senate employment and productivity subcommittee they welcomed a congressional discussion of ways to improve the various job training programs.
″I think the status quo stinks,″ said Brock, adding that he and Bennett have met several times in recent months to devise a plan for better coordination.
Under questioning by Sen. Dan Quayle, R-Ind., the secretaries acknowledged that the Labor Department’s Job Training Partnership Act and the Education Department’s Vocational Education Act have the same constituency.
Both programs are aimed at bringing unemployed, economically disadvantaged and dislocated workers into the job market, with the help of private business.
Quayle has proposed a new agency to handle those job training programs.
Bennett said Quayle’s plan would not necessarily reduce administrative burdens on the departments. With a few exceptions, he said, ″all functions (of the new agency) could be delegated back to the Departments of Education and Labor. There would be a substantial risk of overlap in many functions.″
Despite their misgivings about Quayle’s proposal, the secretaries emphasized that job training and education will be more important than ever if the United States is to maintain its competitive advantage in the coming years.
″We are going to be shy of skilled people by the end of this decade,″ Brock said.
Both officials said, however, that training programs should not be too job- specific because the employment market is constantly changing. Reading, writing and self-discipline are among the skills that will serve Americans best, they said.