The New York Times: Job Training That’s Free Until You’re Hired Is a Blueprint for Biden

April 7, 2021

By Steve Lohr

Excerpted from The New York Times

Bill Barber saw an ad on Facebook last year for American Diesel Training Centers, a school in Ohio that prepares people for careers as diesel mechanics. It came with an unusual pitch: He would pay for the schooling only if it landed him a job, thanks to a nonprofit called Social Finance.

After making sure it wasn’t a scam, he signed up. After going through the immersive five-week program, he got a job with starting pay of $39,000 a year—about $10,000 more than he made before as a cable TV installer.

“I figured this was my best opportunity to succeed,” Mr. Barber, 23, said.

American Diesel Training is part of a new model of workforce training—one that bases pay for training programs partly on whether students get hired. Early results are promising, and experts say the approach makes far more economic sense than the traditional method, in which programs are paid based on how many people enroll.

Social Finance, founded a decade ago to develop new ways to finance results-focused social programs, is showing how the idea could grow quickly just as the pandemic made job-training programs more important than ever. The coronavirus put millions of people out of work, upended industries, and accelerated automation.

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Photo: Bill Barber, a recent graduate of American Diesel Training, looking under the hood of a semi-truck. Credit: Brian Kaiser for The New York Times