A National Resource to Support Excellence in Community Action

Center for Employment Training

Last Revised: Sep 11, 2007 - Initial Posting: Jan 16, 2005

Total Action for Progress (TAP) established a Center for Employment Training to provide education and skill training needed to enhance an individual's marketability to enter today's workforce.


Center for Employment TrainingTotal Action for Progress (TAP) developed a Center for Employment Training (CET) based on the successful CET employment training program model that was started in San Jose, California - see national CET course listing.  There are currently 14 CET training centers in 4 states (CA, NC, TX, VA).  TAP has worked with three other CAA's and one other non-profit organization to develop a network of five CET programs in Virginia that has been successful in obtaining State funding.

A Student Handbook (send for Handbook) offers information on all elements of CET.  Hands-on skill training is integrated with job seeking and job keeping skills training, on-the-job work experience facilitated through a full-time Job Developer, as well as basic education and GED preparation.  Supportive services are provided both during training and after job placement and include counseling, conflict resolution and assistance, and referrals to community resources.  Instructors are involved with follow-up to determine any additional training needs that graduates might require.

The program features partnerships with local businesses that serve on Technical Advisory Boards to help develop curricula and facilitate hiring of CET graduates.  Businesses also help by identifying skills to target for training to remain responsive to emerging employer needs.

CET is open-entry, open-exit and self-paced.  Students participate in training on a daily basis for 5 hours a day and advance at their own rate.  A minimum competency level of 70% is required in each skill area.  This results in students graduating at different times, but ensures employers of the quality of CET graduates.  Most courses can be completed in ranges from between 8-9 months up to 12-18 months.

Orientation sessions are regularly held to provide information on CET training opportunities and CET requirements.  A Student Action Plan (SAP) is established for each student and assessment tests are used when needed to identify specific training needs. A High School Diploma, GED and/or Ability to Benefit test would be required for enrollment.  Determination is also made regarding eligibility for financial aid (see Federal Student Aid Program Resource Publications from the U.S. Department of Education).  The Council on Occupational Education has fully accredited CET as a licensed proprietary school.

Collectively, CET training centers offer vocational training in seven career categories.  Individuals with private sector industry experience serve as CET Instructors.  Classes are conducted through a simulation of the business environment.  Additionally, a contextual learning model is followed that integrates vocational training and basic skills education.

A CET brochure and a School Catalog (send for brochure/Catalog) are used to provide prospective students with a description of TAP's CET program including:

  • Overview of TAP and the Center for Employment Training
  • CET Admissions Process
  • Requirements for Academic Progress
  • Course Offerings
  • Tuition Policy
  • Compliant Procedures

Two courses are listed for Fall 2004:

  • Automated Office Skills (810 hours) for employment as Typist, Secretary, Word Processor, Data Entry Clerk, Office Assistant, Receptionist
  • Medical Insurance Billing (630 hours) for employment as Medical Record Clerk, Medical Voucher Clerk, Hospital Admitting Clerk, Outpatient Admitting Clerk, Medical Receptionist, Appointment Clerk, Claims Clerk I

Community Action Agencies are well suited to operate CET sites as an option for non-traditional students who often are in need of support services and may not be suited for community college settings (i.e. students needing to acquiring their GED).


CET's provides information on graduation and placement rates, gainful employment disclosures, performance fact sheets, and a Nnet price calculator.  Student success stories  are also featured.

The Economic Development Administration of the U.S. Dept. of Commerce has called CET "the most effective training program in the nation."  Additionally in 1987, the Rockefeller Foundation concluded a five-year study of job training programs for single minority female heads of households and found that CET "operated very effectively, and generated large net earnings rapidly."  As a result of this study, the U.S. Dept. of Labor contracted with CET to replicate its successful training design across the country.

In 1993, a government-funded JOBSTART study concluded that "young CET participants earned over $6,000 ore that the control group members, which was a 40% earnings increase."  CET was the only program in the study to produce a consistent and significant net earnings increase.  CET was also referred to as a program of "demonstrated effectiveness" by both the U.S. House and Senate in the Conference Report on the Workforce Development Act of 1996.

A CET newsletter (Training Notebook: News on Virginia's Centers for Employment Training) publicizes the success of CET in Virginia.  Overall, CET Virginia outcomes have included:

  • For the first year of operation, 84% of students were placed in unsubsidized employment with an average wage of $8.40 per hour
  • Since 2000, over 300 low-income individuals found unsubsidized employment as a result of CET training

FY '03 results for TAP's CET program reflect a two-thirds placement rate (24 of 32 students placed in employment).


Jo Nelson, Director of This Valley Works