Counting Costs for S.F. Workforce Development Programs


The city offers free and discounted multimedia production classes through workforce development programs at the Bay Area Video Coalition. San Francisco is putting $8 million into meeting the needs of a growing technology job sector. Photo by Tearsa Joy Hammock / San Francisco Public Press.

City programs offering workforce development services range from simple access to a job-listings database to a full-time, 18-week certification course that funnels graduates into union apprenticeships.

They vary widely in cost, with some intensive programs costing tens of thousands of dollars for each participant placed in a job.

For more on the city’s efforts to coordinate training and subsidy programs, see: “HELP WANTED: City Hall Focuses on Hot Job Sectors, but Struggles to Track Workforce Training Budget,” the cover story in the fall print edition of the San Francisco Public Press.

Some programs are funded with federal dollars, some with local, and at least one through a tax charged to all employers in the state. The city Budget and Legislative Analyst’s Office put the total cost at about $70 million for workforce development programs, but did not provide a breakdown. Details from the Office of Economic and Workforce Development were available for some programs and not for others, particularly those run out of other departments.

We did some simple math for nine city programs for which data were available to help readers decide which are worth the cost.

$5 per participant

Site provides access to thousands of jobs. Employers can also contact job seekers. Uses only non-local funds.

Average annual cost (Fiscal Year 2009-2010 to 2012-2013): $54,902

Average participants per year (FY 2009-2010 to 2012-2013): 12,034 

$68 per job

Summer Jobs+

Provides employment to young adults ages 16 to 24 during the summer. Uses only local funds.

Total cost (FY 2012-2013): $355,000

Job placements (2012): 5,204

$790 per participant

Layoff and Outplacement Programs

Services that place job seekers into a variety of industries including manufacturing and biotechnology. Trainees can apply to one of four “sector academies” — construction, health care, hospitality and technology. Uses only federal funds.

Average annual cost (2008 to 2013):  $274,905

Average participants per year (2008 to 2012): 348

(Although the program received an initial investment of $197,781 in 2008, it served no one that year. After omitting the first year’s costs, the price per participant becomes $677.)

$1,019 per participant

Employment Training Panel

Reimburses employers for training incumbent workers, with revenue from a state tax all California employers pay. Most funding is directed to training at larger companies rather than small firms or state-run agencies. Uses only state funds.

Average annual cost (FY 2011-2012 to 2012-2013): $47,882

Average participants per year (FY 2011-2012 to 2012-2013): 47

$1,155 per job

First Source Hiring Program

Connects city residents with entry-level jobs with city contractors or public-works agencies. Uses only local funds.

Average annual cost (FY 2008-2009 to 2012-2013): $221,738

Average job placements per year (FY 2008-2009 to 2012-2013): 192

$4,113 per job

On-the-Job Subsidized Training

Assists employers with hiring and training new staff, and reimburses employers 50 percent of wages. Uses a combination of local and non-local funds.

Average annual cost (FY 2008-2009 to 2012-2013): $98,700

Average annual job placements (FY 2008-2009 to 2012-2013): 24

$6,806 per job


Mostly trains people with a technology background to re-enter the field by updating their skills and connecting them with industry employers that are hiring. Uses almost entirely federal funds.

Cost (FY 2012-2013): $1,034,480

Job and paid internship placements (FY 2012-13): 152

$30,718 per job


Provides employment resources for young adults between 18 and 24 who have minimal work experience. Uses a combination of local and non-local funds.

Average annual cost (FY 2008-2009 to 2012-2013): $927,681

Average annual job placements (FY 2008-2009 to 2012-2013): 30

$33,296 per job

CityBuild Academy

Construction training for San Francisco residents. Based at City College of San Francisco’s Evans Campus. Works with unions to fast-track workers into journeyman jobs. Uses only local funds.

Average annual cost (FY 2008-2009 to 2012-2013): $2,230,852

Average annual job placements (FY 2008-2009 to 2012-2013): 67

NB: At least 14 city departments operate workforce development programs — more than we could list here. Three will outspend the rest in fiscal year 2013-2014: the Human Services Agency ($24 million); the Department of Children, Youth, and Their Families ($11.5 million); and the Office of Economic and Workforce Development ($14.9 million). Spending has grown the fastest for OEWD, which focuses on local voluntary training and operates most of the programs listed here.

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This story is part of a special report on workforce development in San Francisco. A version of this story ran in the fall 2013 print edition.

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