Train-the-Trainer: Vocational and job training schools

Our Outreach staff conducted training on "Finding the Right Job Training School" module
Published: Monday, February 05, 2018

In late December in downtown Los Angeles, community agencies gathered for a train-the-trainer event featuring Consumer Action’s "Finding the Right Job Training School" module. For Consumer Action trainers Linda Williams and Nelson Santiago, the well-attended event held at the Omni Hotel in the Bunker Hill neighborhood, rounded out another successful year of community-based trainings.

Finding the Right Job Training School was developed for community educators to use in helping students and job seekers get the best vocational training without exposing themselves to for-profit school fraud or unmanageable debt. It covers such topics as what the options are for pursuing job training (including the benefits of community colleges), what to consider before enrolling in a trade school and how to pay for school.

Consumer Action's trainers secured a guest speaker from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Apprenticeship. Arthur Page spoke on apprenticeships, including ways to find these earn-while-you-learn programs, the application and selection process, and even programs for high school students, active duty servicemembers and inmates in correctional institutions. Page provided a link to the Department of Labor's apprenticeship sponsor database [], which ApprenticeshipUSA sponsors and state-by-state information. (California-specific resources are the Department of Industrial Relations and the Employment Development Department’s Eligible Training Provider List.)

Williams included in her discussion some startling findings: A 2016 National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) study found that students who attended for-profit colleges would have been better off, in terms of annual earnings, not going to school, or attending a community college instead. The findings were based on an analysis of 567,000 students who attended for-profit schools from 2006 to 2008. More than 80 percent of the students carried student loan debt. See "A popular college investment promised students a career, but didn’t pay off" (Washington Post) and "Gainfully Employed? Assessing the Employment and Earnings of For-Profit College Students Using Administrative Data" (NBER).

Williams explained to participants that mentioning relevant research findings in trainings is an effective strategy for engaging learners. She added that when participants prepare workshops for clients, they also should try to find some real consumer stories to put a face on the numbers. They might find these stories in their own community or in news articles. The goal would be to find stories about consumers their clients can relate to (e.g., similar ages, ethnicities, educational pursuits, etc.).

Santiago emphasized the importance of background reading before giving community training presentations. He recommended that participants think about the questions they might get and be prepared to point learners to the right resources to learn more. To help presenters prepare, Santiago provided an extensive list of resources. His suggestions include weblinks to more information about comparing schools, veterans educational benefits, student loan repayment and more. Santiago explained, for example, that participants might not plan to talk extensively about taxes and loan forgiveness but can point their learners to two articles by Student Loan Hero: "Surprise! Here’s When You’ll Owe Taxes on Student Loan Forgiveness (and When You Won’t)" and "You Need to Know How Student Loan Forgiveness Is Taxed."

He also recommended Consumer Action’s Finding the Right Job Training School Reference/Resource Sheet, which can be downloaded for free from our website.

Williams and Santiago are preparing for the next “Finding the Right Job Training School” training, to take place in San Diego in March. The team will introduce participants to the module, and they say they plan to bring information on the latest developments on the topic.




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