Funding Report Voices Support for Training Efforts
With expected budget cuts looming for many government programs, the House Appropriations Committee’s mark-up of the FY 2006 Labor, Health and Human Services and Education appropriations bill has been highly anticipated by advocates of training efforts to alleviate labor shortages in the construction industry.
While funding levels for several Department of Labor programs were cut, two of the Home Builders Institute's (HBI) workforce development efforts — its trades training programs in Job Corps and its Project CRAFT program — were singled out for their efforts to prepare youth for careers in the home building industry.
“The committee recognizes the significant impact the home building industry continues to have on the health of the U.S. economy,” Rep. Jim Walsh (R-N.Y.) noted in the official committee report accompanying the funding bill. “The committee also recognizes the essential role played by the Home Builders Institute, the workforce development arm of the National Association of Home Builders, in training Job Corps youth for careers in this high growth industry.”
The bill recommends $1.542 billion for Job Corps, nearly $10 million below FY 2005, but still $25 million above the budget request. The residential Job Corps program provides academic and vocational training for at-risk youths at 122 centers in 48 states and the District of Columbia. HBI offers training in seven skilled trades at 69 centers.
The committee went on to encourage the Labor Department to identify existing and future Job Corps centers “for potential expansion of construction trades training by employer-based industry groups like HBI, to help alleviate the shortage of skilled workers and to further the goal of American homeownership.”
Although the FY 2006 budget request did not include funds for the Responsible Reintegration of Youthful Offenders program, and House appropriators also chose not to provide funding, FY 2005 support at $49.6 million ensures the operation of current programs such as HBI’s Project CRAFT/Nashville.
For the past couple of years, funding for the Responsible Reintegration program has been restored by Senate Labor Appropriators. Senate action on its version of the spending bill is expected on July 12.
In response to a request by Rep. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) for a show of support from the House Appropriations Committee for Project CRAFT, the committee report includes recognition of “Project CRAFT as a noteworthy effort in the rehabilitation and reduced recidivism of adjudicated youth. The committee believes Project CRAFT serves as an example of the success achieved during the Youth Reintegration pilot demonstration, and applauds HBI for its ongoing dedication to serving the workplace education needs of this segment of the youth population.”
Project CRAFT is operated in Jackson in partnership with the Mississippi Department of Human Services, Youth Division, serving adjudicated youths from four of Jackson’s surrounding counties: Hines, Madison, Rankin and Warren.
In addition, the report language commended Project CRAFT for “the role it plays in preparing young people to join the residential construction workforce and the continuing importance of the home building industry to our nation’s economy.” Furthermore, the committee recommended that the Labor Department “replicate Project CRAFT so that its outcomes-oriented approach will assist adjudicated youth to become productive members of the industry’s workforce.”
The award-winning training program also operates with state funding and through local partnerships in Morrison Township, N.J. and in Florida at Avon Park Pembroke Pines, Orlando and Tampa. A new site funded by the state’s Department of Juvenile Justice will open in Clearwater this summer.
To read the complete appropriations bill, click here and enter H.R. 3010 in the box at the upper left.
For further information on HBI’s programs, e-mail Maria McIntyre at HBI, or call her at 800-795-7955 x8912.
For legislative information, e-mail Jenna Hamilton in NAHB's Legislative and Political Relations, or call her at 800-368-5242 x8407.