Sequestration Presents Uncertain Outlook for Students, Researchers, and Job-Seekers

March 01, 2013

The sequester will cut more than $450-million from federal employment and training programs, which help the unemployed gain necessary skills to re-enter the work force. As a result, nearly two million fewer workers will have access to those services, which are often provided by community colleges, according to a statement from the National Skills Coalition.

But those programs have already lost a significant amount of federal support, according to Rachel Gragg, the coalition's federal-policy director. More than $1-billion has been cut in the last two years. Ms. Gragg said the immediate challenge would be absorbing even more cuts on July 1, when the program year begins.

It's hard to know for sure what consequences additional cuts will have, Ms. Gragg said, because the federal government has not identified how cuts will be distributed and overseen throughout various programs.

But some local organizations the coalition works with have said they may have to lay off staff members, cut back on training services, or close programs or centers altogether.

"Once that capacity is lost, you won't get it back," Ms. Gragg said. If the sequester cuts stay in place for the entire 10 years specified in the legislation, the results would be "catastrophic."

There are already 160,000 people on waiting lists for adult basic-education programs, and Ms. Gragg said the coalition estimates that 10,000 others will lose access to training services under the sequester.

Sequestration, she said, "will have completely dismantled the federal work-force-development system."