Effectiveness of San Francisco’s local workforce aid unknown 

San Francisco spent $69 million last year helping an estimated 10,883 residents obtain employment, or about $6,424 per client.

But no one can say whether that was money well-spent. The City’s workforce training is left untracked, outcomes unmeasured and efforts spread over 14 departments with little coordination.

The City has known about these shortcomings for years. In 2007, a plan was approved to centralize the workforce efforts to try to reform the system, but a new audit by Budget Analyst Harvey Rose found that has not happened.

City-funded workforce programs are seen as an important effort to help low-income residents find gainful employment to afford living in San Francisco, especially in the current economic climate of rents having skyrocketed along with other cost-of-living expenses. Of the total spending, $32.5 million went toward subsidized wages or stipends for program participants.

“Going forward, the Board of Supervisors needs better information on how to allocate these funds to workforce development programs and on the effectiveness of these funding allocations,” Rose said.

The state of workforce efforts is about the same as it was six years ago, only with increased spending.

“City departments have not implemented standard performance measures, formal collection of performance measure data across departments, or formal collection of information on citywide workforce development expenditures,” the audit said.

Board of Supervisors President David Chiu, who requested the audit, said it’s important to reform the workforce system since “there is still a very real gap between those San Franciscans doing well and those who are struggling.”

Chiu has requested legislation be drafted to establish a working group that would create a long-term plan for fixing the reported deficiencies.

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