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Published: August 1, 2011

Manpower Development and Training
Act of 1962 (MDTA)

A legislative element of the WAR ON POVERTY that established occupational training and retraining programs for the unemployed. The act called on the government— specifically the Departments of Labor and of Health, Education and Welfare—“to appraise the manpower requirements and resources of the Nation and to develop and apply the information and methods needed to deal with the problem of unemployment resulting from automation and technological changes and other types of persistent unemployment.” In 1963, the act was amended to add occupational training for disadvantaged youths and other unemployed persons to give them marketable skills.
The program had little noticeable effect in reducing hard-core unemployment. Many that were awarded funds to train the poor took advantage of the lack of government oversight to retrain skilled, albeit unemployed, workers instead of the unskilled ones. In 1982, MDTA was subsumed into a new Job Training Partnership program designed to eliminate such scandals and focus on the hard-core unemployed. Nevertheless, the scandals continued. In 1988, for example, one automotive plant used $8 million in Job Partnership funds to fly a group of workers to Japan for special training and to teach Japanese instructors enough English to train the workers.