Housing and Economic Development – Eliminate Chicago Career Tech

Savings: $8.4 million
In 2010, the City launched Chicago Career Tech, which aims to provide job retraining to unemployed middle-income workers for careers in technology-related fields.  The program provides participants six months of on-the-job training and classroom instruction in fields such as digital media, healthcare information technology, and Web design and development.[1]  Recipients receive a stipend of $270 per week on average throughout the six-month program.[2]  By the end of 2011 approximately 700 individuals will have participated in the program.[3]  In 2010 and 2011, the City spent $8.4 million on the program and has pledged to spend the same amount in 2012. Under this option, the City would not fund the remaining year of Chicago Career Tech thus saving $8.4 million next year.
Proponents might argue that given the City’s dire financial condition it is not prudent for the City to fund an expensive workforce development program targeted to those with existing training and job skills.  Also, this program devotes substantial resources to a small number of workers.  Additionally, the program eligibility guidelines are so broad (high school diploma, currently unemployed, have made $25,000 to $80,000), that the program can only serve a fraction of the people eligible for the program.  This may call into question the fairness of devoting vast resources to a few select individuals, when equally deserving peers receive no assistance.   Opponents might argue that the current high unemployment rate necessitates an expansion of the City’s workforce development efforts and the population being serviced by Career Tech has been particularly affected by the current economic downturn.  Further, by developing a better trained workforce in these growth industries, the City will make it more likely that businesses in these industries will locate in Chicago.   Some would argue that the program not be eliminated, but rather redesigned so that it is more targeted to City residents with greater need.  This could be done by lowering the income thresholds so that lower-income residents are eligible.  An alternative restructuring would be to provide a less generous stipend so that the program would cost less or serve more people.
Budget Details
Dept: NA Bureau:  NA
Fund: NA Approp Code: NA
This program is funded by a portion of the proceeds of the Parking Meter Lease and is not included in the 2011 Annual Appropriation Ordinance.
 

[1] Chicago Career Tech. Our Program. http://www.chicagocareertech.com/our-program/
[2] Spielman, Fran. “Daley excited as first class of Career Tech kicks off.” Chicago Sun-Times. May 18, 2010. Chicago Career Tech. “FAQs for Participants.” http://www.chicagocareertech.com/our-program/faqs/