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Proposed Cuts Would Impact San Diego Job Training Programs That Are Booming

A sign advertises a résumé writing workshop at a San Ysidro Adult School job ...

Photo by Matthew Bowler / KPBS

Above: A sign advertises a résumé writing workshop at a San Ysidro Adult School job fair, April 27, 2017.

Three times the number of job seekers expected came out to a job fair in San Ysidro Thursday. Many got their training thanks to grants President Donald Trump wants to cut.

Some 1,000 job seekers met with representatives from NAASCO, the Port of San Diego and other employers at a job fair in San Ysidro Thursday. That is triple what the organizer, Sweetwater Adult Schools, expected.

Many in attendance are wrapping up their high school educations, learning English and getting career technical training through programs that could see federal budget cuts.

President Donald Trump signaled in his budget proposal that he wants to trim some grant programs that currently fund English-language instruction and supplies for Sweetwater's adult programs. He wants the states to pick up a larger portion of that tab. But state funding for adult schools has not yet bounced back to pre-recession levels.

"I think it's worth considering expanding the adult education budget," said Sweetwater Adult Schools Director Ryan Burke. "We have so many people here in California that may have not finished high school or may have come to the country after high school was completed and need that support, that next level of education."

That is the case with 44-year-old Ricardo Rios. He came to the United States from Mexico in his 20s and became a citizen 10 years ago. When the supermarket where he was a manager closed, Rios decided to go to San Ysidro Adult School to formally learn English and earn his GED.

By Matthew Bowler

Ricardo Rios is pictured, April 27, 2017.

"So I have a chance to come to school, prepare myself, learn a lot more about everything to get prepared to look for a better job, to have better opportunities," he said.

Rios said he would like to continue working in supermarkets, but to move higher through the ranks. Others at the school earn certificates for jobs in health care, construction, computer technology, restaurants and floral design.

Sweetwater Adult Schools serve about 20,000 students a year, Burke said. That is half the number they served before the recession.

The president's budget proposal would slash the Department of Labor, which administers federal workforce training efforts, by 21 percent. The exact cuts to "job training and employment service" grants are unclear, but the proposal seems to point to Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act funds that go to the states and, later, to local providers.

There could be little appetite for the cuts in Congress, which ultimately hammers out the federal budget. More than 100 lawmakers on both sides of the aisle recently signed on to an Association for Career and Technical Education letter in support of another fund for adult education, Perkins grants.

By Matthew Bowler

Job seekers and educators attend a job fair at the San Ysidro Adult School, April 27, 2017.

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