e-Texas e-Texassmaller smarter faster governmentDecember, 2000
Carole Keeton Rylander
Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts

Recommendations of the Texas Comptroller

Chapter 7: Workforce



Most Texas companies are now addressing their training needs without assistance from state government. In the fluid, dynamic labor market of the future, state government’s primary role in workforce development should be to foster a climate that encourages continued improvements in productivity. As Texas Workforce Commissioner Ron Lehman stresses, “We need to figure out how to impart knowledge faster, better, quicker, and cheaper.”

This will require the state to create innovative public-private partnerships to optimize our training capacity and resources; provide information and technical assistance to both employees and employers so they can assess and respond to the market’s demand for job skills; and finally, remove obstacles that impede the effective flow of skills across industries and regions.

The Workforce System Should Better Meet the Needs of the State’s


Changes in the economy and in employers’ expectations require a rethinking of the state’s role in workforce development. What should these changes entail? The state needs to do much more to form partnerships with private companies, and to reduce paperwork and bureaucracy throughout the system. It fundamentally should shift its role to that of a partner in funding training and a broker of quality information.

The Smart Jobs program, currently administered by the Texas Department of Economic Development, provides grants to businesses for worker training. Texas should move Smart Jobs to the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC). This move would integrate the program into the state’s workforce development system and improve public–private training partnerships. The Smart Jobs program and the Skills Development Fund should be merged into a single program that is completely funded by the Smart Jobs fund.

Restructure the Adult Basic Education System

An increasing number of jobs require some education beyond high school. Basic adult literacy is critical to the improvement of Texas’ workforce. The lack of meaningful accountability information on adult basic education programs means that precious resources cannot be targeted to the most effective providers. In addition, organizational separation between the state’s adult basic education system and workforce development system creates problems for individuals trying to learn basic workplace skills while also working to improve their literacy. TWC operates some adult literacy programs, but most adult basic education programs remain at the Texas Education Agency (TEA), making it difficult to link literacy and workforce development training effectively. All adult basic education programs should be housed at TWC to ensure full integration with local workforce development board efforts.

TEA has little data on the effectiveness of Texas’ adult education programs and should complete its accountability system. Upon assuming responsibility for these functions, TWC should compile and analyze solid data on results through a system that requires providers to devote minimal time and resources to reporting data to the state. The easier the system is to use, the greater the number of providers that will use it, and the better the information on program success will be.

The Workforce System Should Better Meet the Needs of Workers

A driving principal in both the Texas workforce reforms of 1995 and the federal workforce reforms of 1998 has been customer service, where customers include employers and employees. The state should provide employers and employees with information concerning labor markets and training opportunities and should improve the accountability of the Texas workforce system.

e-Texas is an initiative of Carole Keeton Rylander, Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts
Post Office Box 13528, Capitol Station
Austin, Texas

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