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Do Job Retraining Programs Work?

Job retraining programs have bipartisan support.  But do they work?  And is anyone keeping track?

Shannon Swift uses a feeler gauge to set the gap on the rollers of the preimpregnated web machine at Renegade Materials in Springboro, Ohio on Tuesday, August 11, 2009. Swift lost his job at a local GM plant, and Third Frontier money was used to retrain him for 6 months on his new job, which involves making lightweight composite fibers for the aerospace industry. (AP)

Shannon Swift uses a feeler gauge to set the gap on the rollers of the preimpregnated web machine at Renegade Materials in Springboro, Ohio on Tuesday, August 11, 2009. Swift lost his job at a local GM plant, and Third Frontier money was used to retrain him for 6 months on his new job, which involves making lightweight composite fibers for the aerospace industry. (AP)

Every time a wave of jobs is lost – and we’ve lost plenty lately – American leaders stand up and talk about retraining.  Don’t worry, retrain.  And Congress throws a bunch of money at retraining programs.  For health care jobs, green energy jobs.  Up and at ‘em, America.  Get going.  Retool.  Retrain.

Well, how’s all that retraining going?  Are we boning up on the right stuff?  Are we finding those jobs?  Is it working?  There’s a lot hanging on the answer.

This hour, On Point:  job retraining in a jobless time.  We’re spending a lot to do it.  Is it working?

-Tom Ashbrook


Ianthe Jeanne Dugan, senior staff writer at the Wall Street Journal.

Carl Van Horn, professor of public policy and director of the Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University.

Rick Stine, formerly a senior engineer at Pitney Bowes, was laid off three years ago. He went through training at the WorkPlace — a federally funded program under the Workforce Investment Act.  Now he works as a quality engineer at Bead Industries, a small business equipment company.

From Tom’s Reading List

Wall Street Journal “The Obama administration has been promoting the retraining of unemployed workers as a linchpin of its economic-recovery plan. The federal government spent about $18 billion on training and job-search programs, running 47 separate programs offering training, in the year ended September 2009, the most recent tally by the Government Accountability Office. And that doesn’t include some state and local programs that use federal funding to train workers.”

The Times Weekly “Sixteen one-year grants are being made to 15 national nonprofit organizations through the program’s general funds or funds set aside by statute to serve Native Americans or Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders. The grants will support more than 35,000 positions. In addition, state and territorial grantees that previously received funding through this program will continue to support more than 10,000 positions.”

Slate “While the recession reduced incomes and increased unemployment across all socioeconomic groups, the poor have been hit harder than anyone else. According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the bottom 20 percent of American families earned less in 2010 than they did in 2006, the year before the recession began. Every other income quintile is at least back at where they started, or even a little ahead. For the bottom quintile, this is just the most recent setback in a series of them: Their share of America’s economic pie has been shrinking for decades.”


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  • Wm. James from Missouri

    Questions: What are the projections for the average number of jobs future workers will have to transition to within their lifetimes ? Can we really expect people to train and retrain over and over, during one lifetime ? Can we really expect them to have to move over and over ? What are the lifetime COST to health and family; and how much equity or potential equity is lost by those that find themselves unemployed ? How many hats can one person wear on one head ?
    _I would much rather push the conversation to shifting the labor supply and demand curves in such a way as to create a shortage of labor ! We need to create an environment that forces wages up, WAY UP ! Imagine HELP WANTED signs EVERYWHERE ! This will force business to automate ( folks, they will do it anyway ) to offset the labor cost. To get there we need to create a shorter workday, with favorable overtime rates and benefits.
    _( The following is a call out to AC.) The world is not too far away from exascale computing ( and maybe beyond). Humans will not be able to compete as they have throughout history, with or without more education. Too many people in power are in some kind of brain fog ! They are living in a make believe world, in which denial rules their rationality. Underlying their denial, ( I am now speaking mostly about the super rich ) is a suspicion about the viability of a “ planned economy”. To them it reeks of Stalinism. I do understand their fears on this issue and sympathize in some respects. However, they will have to come to terms with a future world of systems and machine intelligence that surpasses by ORDERS of MAGNITUDE any combination of mankind’s abilities ! It WILL be possible to overcome mankind’s shortcomings !

    • Wm. James from Missouri

      Afterthought: Maybe we could convince companies to augment wages with vouchers for extremely high tech and self-empowering products such as 3-D Printing machines, personal robotics, high speed parallel neural network enhanced personal computers, exoskeletons ( Now your laughing but that’s because your living in the past ! ) , genetic augmentation. ( Now your freaking out but that’s because Hollywood has your soul : ) )

      • Tina

        I’m only freaking out because I know that I do not have the brain to use these tools.  I even need help with a lot of basic computer maintenance stuff.  Anti-cancer meds have played around with my short-term memory and you NEED a good s.t.m. to learn the programs for the devices you mention.  A 3-D printer?  I CAN see how self-empowering it could be!  I CAN see how great it would be to go back to school in mathematics, but none of these good pathways represents the natural bend of my cognitive abilities, and they tax my life-acquired deficits.  Once again  I say, we need a country and economy that has more layers where people can “reside”, contribute, etc.  We seem to be heading to a monolithic model which is like depleting the gene pool when it comes to the health of any species or biosphere.  

    • Ellen Dibble

      Big Brother will be Watching You, but the puppeteer will not be the marionettes, the governments, but their masters.  One cannot doubt or challenge the system, or the system will implode.  Oh, I can imagine it.  Let them drink vodka — or maybe there is a tranquilizer for the people, and nice little jobs licking envelopes in order to preserve the illusion of dignity.

    • AC

      i can’t believe i miss all the good shows! i won’t even be able to come back and listen or read til Thursday!

    • AC
  • JGC

    I’ve been talking with my kids, as they are contemplating their upcoming university years, we cannot (and they cannot) yet comprehend the new industries and jobs that will be in demand 10 or 15 years from now.  People have to take in as much math as possible, and to travel outside their comfort zone, and just be open-minded to all possibilities out there.

    • Tina

      And what if you just plain aren’t good at math?  It seems like math has a real talent component to it.  I know that good teaching can help, but still, the high level math that we are talking about seems to require a really rarefied giftedness.  I was in school with the kids with that giftedness, but I couldn’t “go there with them”.  When I tried to apply myself to it anyway, I flunked out.  Flunking out of college is not only expensive, but it makes it hard to start at any other college.  I eventually did (this was decades ago when everything was less expensive), studying in areas where my abilities lined up with the subject matter.  Will this no longer be allowed in American life?  

  • Che’ Riviera

    What a dream.  Re-starting your career over and over again.  Every time you build some seniority, a higher wage, and a few weeks of vacation…  BANG!  You get to start all over again in the next career du jour.

    My grandfather worked 37 years in a factory, making a terrific wage.  He raised 7 kids and his wife stayed at home.  He retired in 1987 with a fat pension and has never looked back.  He travels and hunts and still has no financial worries 25 years later.

    I graduated from high school in 89, and the university n 94.  I’ve been in construction, retail, sales, food, law enforcement and healthcare.  My wife and I both work to maintain a modest old house and raise 3 kids.  If I ever retire, it will be on a shoestring.  My elected officials tell me social security will start to tank around the time I’m 60, and who knows about medicare.  Maybe if I’m “lucky”, the republicans will privatize my whole retirement.  Oh, BTW, my form of a pension is a 401k that would be depleted by 6 months in a nursing home.

    American Exceptionalism?  American Dream?  Progress?  You tell me.  Any politician saying our best days are still ahead should be put on a pike and displayed outside an unemployment office. 

    • ThatsRight

      Exactly. It’s called redistribution of wealth. American people are expected to live on myth and self delusion.

    • LinP

       Amen. That is the way it is for so many of us.

    • MadMarkTheCodeWarrior

      All our representatives have to do is raise the maximum contribution to Social Security, but Grover Norquist says the terminally wealthy are bearing too much of a burden having had their income go up 300% or so and are now confronted with the Herculean task of managing all that extra cash… they can’t be expected to be stressed further by being asked to pay more into the system.

      • Che’ Riviera

        Hey, those are the job creators!  Don’t make ‘em mad or else they might stop creating jobs!

        • Tina

          Does anyone else think it’s possible that these so-called “job creators” are refusing to create jobs right now so that Obama can be blamed for there not being any jobs?  IF they are job creators, why aren’t they creating them right now?  They’ve GOT the tax cuts they say they need to have continued.  Why aren’t they using the advantage of those tax cuts right now while they have them?  BECAUSE… there is NO connection between their getting tax cuts and our getting jobs — they just say that to get their tax cuts!  Greedy expletives! 

          • Che’ Riviera

            That’s the trillion plus dollars the private sector is sitting on until a conservative wins the white house and creates a more favorable environment for profiteering.

          • Tina


          • harverd phd

             Hate to tell you, but it’s their money…go get your own.

    • jefe68

      As George Carlin once said: The America Dream is just that, a dream. Because you have to be asleep to believe in it.

      • Patrik

        lol Good ol’ George always unapologetically spoke the truth, I miss him.

      • Che’ Riviera

        I also miss Carlin.

    • Che’ Riviera

      I hope some of the hardcore conservative posters address this post today.

      • Tina

        And, so we can better rebut those Conservatives, I hope everyone will get to hear a podcast, re-broadcast, etc., AND find the editorial that Joseph E. Stiglitz has written, based on his book, The Price of Inequality, and/or possibly read his book.  He is one of the economists who explains what the corporations are getting away with because they were able to corral our government.  I believe that we need to understand more and more of these arguments so that we can spread the word.  Again, Faux News has way too much sway over people that Conservative policies will only hurt!  The Bill Moyers show on PBS (and I THINK available in videocast on the web) has been a great source of these new thinkers.  Stiglitz is a Nobel Prize winning economist, so what am I saying “new” thinkers?  

    • Ellen Dibble

      I think the “American dream” of a house with a picket fence was a creation of the mythmakers who sell mortgages and build houses.  And I think the “American dream” of a big car was the creation of certain large and powerful industries too.  
          There is a deeper dream, which has to do with individual freedom and dignity, the sense of responsibility and meaningful citizenship.  Such a citizen can, with the help of everyone else, find the highest and best use of their time, which a functioning community will find a way to reimburse somehow.  
          The dream is freedom, basically.  Free to be the best you can be.  That’s so different from having a hand out on every corner hoping someone will hand you a job.

    • harverd phd

       You remind me of another liberal crybaby from this page – CT.  He fooled around in college, made bad decisions, and then bitched constantly here about conservatives because he didn’t have opportunity handed to him. Tough titty.  This is the liberal MO:  identify your own or someone else’s shortcomings, look for a scapegoat, and go after their money or wish them execution.  I guess the death penalty is ok in some cases.

      • Che’ Riviera

        Wow, you are really a turd.

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  • Vandermeer

    Welcome back Tom!

  • MadMarkTheCodeWarrior

    First, to put things in perspective, how many new Lawyers graduated to unemployment this year? When Dubya was in office he was talking about training people for jobs of the 21st century. Newsflash, those jobs are being exported overseas too. The only way to restore balance to this economy is to invest in it and the middle class, but with all the tax breaks, subsidies and loopholes, corporations and the wealthy are investing overseas and outsourcing America.

  • Jasoturner

    No doubt the German model will be much discussed.  Unlike the Germans, however, Americans seem to be taught to look down upon craft work as an occupation.  Hence we are a nation of B-schoolers, sociologists and English literature graduates, who, if they have money, go to law school.  The thought of working with their hands, and mastering a trade, is not realistically contemplated in my experience.

    Maybe before talking about retraining and whether or not it works, it makes more sense to think about what kinds of work Americans can realistically do that provide unique value to the global economy.  It would be tragic if we retrained thousands to do work that the Chinese will be stealing away from us in a decade anyway…

  • Patrik

    I think retraining programs work, unfortunately there have to be jobs for those individuals to practice their new skills.   

    Basic economics; technological innovations will directly increase unemployment.  The more automation we have, the less jobs will be available for the growing populous, whether you are educated or not. 

    No employer cares if you need a modest income for a place to stay, food to eat or raise a family, you cost more to take care of than a machine and/or it’s software…that is corporate thinking…I think Romney ran a corporation once, he’ll know what to do…

    • Ellen Dibble

      I guess we need to emigrate to countries where people still haul their own water and pitch their own tents.  We’ll need to apply for green cards, or the equivalent, but somewhere, human labor still has dignity, depend on it.

      • Patrik

        lol, not quite, I was just pointing out that we were not ready pivot and help those displaced by tech innovation to find work elsewhere before implementing that tech

        • Tina

          Does anyone know if the “labor” produced by robots (even tho that designation probably gets smudgy at the edges) is taxable?  IF an employee pays taxes on his/her labor to both the state and federal governments, IF that employee is replaced by technology (only some mimicking humanity enough to look like some robots look), are those governments missing out on taxing the labor produced?  Could a tax here disincentivize replacing workers with technology?  Frankly, I think the worker should be able to stay on the job, but in another capacity, thus “growing” the company.  We keep hearing about growth: why can’t it come from within:  technology allowing new areas of growth, and freed-up employees then taking the company in new “growth” areas.  I WISH companies had some creative vision that was tied to moral vision:  instead, it seems like they only have cut-throat mathematical vision, i.e., what do we do to make the most money?  There need to be MORE models of growth and success; instead, more and more companies are getting on board a model that is really hurting this country.  

  • JustSayin

    This being the US economy, I would guess that most of the “Retraining” is tward a service economy skill set… Like training unemployed engineers how to build a cheeseburger?

  • A Boomer

    Please bring up this topic:

    A large problem affecting the mobility and effectiveness of the labor pool is state by state regulation of occupational and professional licenses.  
    The requirements are often onerous and burdensome.  There should be reciprocity between states.  In addition, the military should issue licenses for the different skill sets the soldiers have been trained in and the federal government should mandate the states to recognize those licenses (like electrician, paramedic, etc).

    I am an attorney and when I moved to another state, I was not entitled to reciprocity because I had not worked “full time” for the 5 out of 7 years prior to the application.  At the same time, legal work is getting outsourced to India!  

    Greed, and not rational thought, rules.

    • jimino

      You make a good point about how one’s labor is highly regulated while one’s capital is almost totally unregulated.  Not to mention that the gain realized by the latter is taxed at a lower rate than labor is taxed.

    • Tina

      Even legal work is getting outsourced??? Yikes!!!

  • Ellen Dibble

    The link to the Wall Street Journal article by Ianthe Jeanne Dugan is truncated for nonsubscribers, but there is this:  ”
    Federal money was available, the workers learned, to retrain for new jobs in fields believed to be growing, such as health care, transportation, high-technology and green energy.”
        I am thinking that employers should be offering those programs, with or without federal support,   Maybe you’d call that a trial internship.   There’s less risk of training an increasingly discouraged individual in yet another field that will be a waste of time and money because the learning doesn’t provide a foundation to be immediately built upon.  The individual may be tied to a house he or she is reluctant to sell, to relocate, for instance.  Or health insurance issues (a spouse’s job for instance) may tie the person to a location, skill or no skill.  
        I put a lot of faith in Americans being able to train themselves when they experience a challenge.  Homesteaders who swarmed to our west?  How to build a house?  How to farm a farm?  How to form a functional community?  No problem.  We’ll figure it out. 

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Y6CO5C2HE4WM2OYGCDVWGPRXXM oldman

    Retraining has limited effectiveness – look at the help wanted ads and most of the jobs are not for newbies but for experienced people, often in multiple skill sets.

    Also, we’ve been shifting into a 2 tier system, older employees keeping their wage levels and most benefits, the new employees making much, much less. Retraining may be a step to new employment, but it also often a step down.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Y6CO5C2HE4WM2OYGCDVWGPRXXM oldman

       Also retraining is pointless when the job has been moved overseas.

      • TomK in Boston

        Exactly. “Retraining” is just camo that the oligarchs use to make it seem that they have a plan to help the peons after they’ve moved all the jobs offshore and cut wages and benefits on the ones that remain. Yessir, all we need to do is teach Joe Sixpack how to use Excel and all will be well. No need for a trade policy or a plan to stop the redistribution to the top, all we need is a little “Retraining”.

  • Ellen Dibble

    It seems to me the ideal place for retraining would be jails and prisons, because the people there don’t have to be simultaneously flipping burgers 40 hours a week and trucking their children hither and yon, all the fillers of time we have.  They can focus on a chosen skill in ways most adults cannot.  Any thoughts about that?

  • Webb Nichols

    There are not enough successful economic sectors active enough to support the unemployed. Again, the new normal 7 to 9 percent unemployed going forward. More workers. Fewer jobs.
    Hourly wage in Myanmar – 60 cents per hour for a factory worker.

    • Tina

      You are right:  we need many layers of economic sectors to be a successful, resilient nation and economy.  This putting all the eggs into the one basket of gigantic corporations that outsource makes us very INflexible, and that is dangerous!  It’s like depleting the gene pool or the number of species in a biozone.  It’s gonna get even worse when Amazon spreads out even more, as we heard in an OnPoint show within the past few months.  

      We need to make demands to get our democracy back, and let the economy be subservient to and supportive of  the democracy.  Right now, the democracy is being exploited to support the economy, and then to support the Big Players in the economy only!  

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1408098372 Mari McAvenia

    I resent Ms. Dugan’s reference to “workers who stumble” in this heavily rigged game. How does one re-train to be born into the economic elite? Blaming workers for the deliberate obstructions to employment is cruel & absurd.

  • Greg

    The end of growth worldwide is upon us. (but not population growth)

    And these people keep beating a dead horse no wonder we are going over the cliff.

  • Tina

    These lazy, wealthy corporations can start to PAY to train people within their corporations!  Hire to train!  A little less wealth, a lot better country!!!

    I went back to school about a decade ago:  there were NO JOBS LEFT by the time our class graduated!  The previous classes had saturated the market, and there were Medicare changes that also affected things.  At least, at the time, the schooling didn’t cost that much.  Many people are stuck with college debt and then find no job once they graduate.  As I said, the lazy, wealthy — hey!  I’ll add greedy — corporations can start paying to train people for the very specific needs that they have!

    • Che’ Riviera

      Why would corporations show altruism?  Training is expensive, and they don’t want to do it.

      • Greg

        Revoke their charters. No business in America if you don’t want to help America.

  • Greg

    Quoting the hate monger blowhard Rush Limbaugh again?

    Why? The man’s an idiot who is helping to destroy the country.

  • Hidan

    Did Tom just play audio of Rush L.?

    “sic” liberal media giving voice to the bigoted, and racist right.

  • Jengliu

    The ones who need job retraining are the policy-makers and their think tank.  If we, the people, allow the treason in disguise to outsource work abroad, the blood letting won’t stop.    

  • MadMarkTheCodeWarrior

    Per Allan Greenspan, the market didn’t do such a good job managing itself and regulating itself on Wall Street. Look where that got us; so in response to Rush – letting the free market sort things out is insane.  No management of an issue heightens chaos and only leads to exceptional inefficiency.

  • Greg

    The government can issue a 1 Trillion Dollar century bond and put the whole nation to work rebuilding America.

    Or the government can build labor camps like North Korea to throw 30 million + Americans who don’t have work revolt.

    • TomK in Boston

      In WW2 debt was 25% of GDP and the full employment and technology explosion from all that government spending launched the incredible middle class prosperity of the 50s and 60s. The debt melted away, like tears in the rain, in the heat of the booming economy. Taxes in the 90% range at the top kept the oligarchs from taking all the GDP.

      Why is it so hard to act on that lesson? There would be no need for “retraining” band aids.

      • Greg

        It is a very viable path and would provide full employment to Americans and rebuild this country.

        We won’t do it because our government works only for the criminal elite and the elite are doing better then ever in this depression.

  • Ellen Dibble

    “Employers” who have a sort of hierarchy with higher-trained employees at the top, hired from a pool with certain certifications and degrees, those employers are looking to employ from a pool “out there,” who turn up in resumes, which is different from an organizations that nurtures the workers, starts someone as “office boy,” or whatever, and lets them rise to the level of most effectiveness.  This is very different from the idea of holding the employee down to the level they were hired at.  I’m thinking of certain phlebotomists who are all, in the group I have in mind, also going to school for master’s degrees.  Their employer wants to have people who are not in any kind of rut.

  • Greg

    Dislocated worker program?

    Why are we letting these corporations move jobs overseas and get tax breaks?

    Revoke their charters for their treasonous acts against America.

  • ToyYoda

    I work in the tech industry and it’s been my experience that training in school will not train you in the skills that companies want.  The reason for it, is that the skills that companies need are skills that you can only learn once you are in the industry, or even skills you can only gain inside a particular company.

    Companies in effect, want to hire exactly the same guy that they laid off but with lesser pay.  Furthermore, there are so many niche skills that you pick up, that it’s easy to have only a few people in the nation who would have your skill set, and yet companies don’t want to hire someone who has a skill set that is similar.

    I think companies have unrealistic expectations, and that they should be willing or encouraged to take the ‘risk’ on someone who could do the job, but doesn’t have the bullet points on his resume.  

  • DrewInGeorgia

    The obvious problem to me is less Job Training than it is a lack of Job Creation. If the Companies that have spent so much time, effort, and funds whittling down worker wages and benefits would have simply invested those resources directly into the employees, this among many other issues wouldn’t be at hand. What if every business reinvested fifty percent of it’s profits directly back into the business via it’s workers? Not administrators with complex bonus structures, not CEOs, not CFOs, but workers.

    Idiots like the regretfully cited Rush Limbaugh would have us believe we should be mad at the Government for wasting money while trying to help people. We should be mad, we should be mad that Government has had to pick up the slack because businesses would rather continually increase their profit margin than pay their workers a living wage.

    Glad your back Tom, did you have to roll in the door feeding us Rush on a Monday morning though?

  • Greg

    The corporations and and the elite have worked hard in the last 40 years to take any power the workers have.

    People, you are all wage slaves to these elite and your power is decreasing everyday because of wage arbitrage and the end of growth.

    Join together or live a miserable  and desperate life and never retire and lose everything when you can’t find work.

  • Yar

    Tom, it is because Germany has state provided healthcare.
    If we had universal healthcare then the apprenticeship system would thrive.  The added liability of additional employees makes investing in new workers a losing proposition.  It is cheaper to work the current employee 60 hours than to hire a new employ and have each work 37.  

    • DrewInGeorgia

      I agree but the most preferable scenario is the one in which you can have two part time minimum-wage workers for literally less than the price of one.

      • Yar

        Because healthcare is externalized by those employers.
        Case in point why we need Universal healthcare.
        The right which fights mandates is fighting for the right to exploit their workers and the community which ends up paying for the healthcare of their uninsured employees.

        • DrewInGeorgia

          My thoughts exactly.

    • Hennorama

      Germany’s health care is actually a multi-payer system.  Employers pay a little over half the cost for accident, long-term care, and health insurance, as a % of salary.  This works out to a bit under 10% of wages for most workers.  Employees pay most of the rest, and government subsidizes lower paid workers’ premiums.  These premiums are paid into private non-profit “sickness funds.”  Each member of each “sickness fund” pays the same rate of premiums.

      Higher paid workers and a few others can opt out of the “sickness funds” and instead pay for private insurance.  About 15% choose private insurance, which usually has greater benefits.

      Importantly, the sickness funds are non-profit entities.  They are mandated to provide a minimum range of coverage, and can’t refuse membership or discriminate based on age or other factors.

      Health providers are paid set amounts, on a fee-for-service basis.  The fees are vary by state.

      Same-day health care appointments are common, and wait times are low to non-existent.

      Germany spends a bit under 11% of GDP and a bit over $3600/person/year on health care.  The US spends about 18% of GDP and a bit over $6400/person/year.  German life expectancy and health outcomes exceed those in the US.

      • Yar

        Thank you for clarification, I should have said state mandated insurance.  We need a similar system.  

  • Lori A Bogart

    Isn’t there some responsibility on the part of the retraining programs to steer people into professions where there is a need? Also, like in the case where the woman lost her job due to outsourcing, why aren’t we holding those companies responsible for retraining and finding jobs for those they have let go?

  • Greg

    Stop H1-B visas.

    Senator Schumer has foreigners working in his office while 25 million Americans are out of work.

    You are telling us Senator Schumer that you can’t find Americas to do that work?

    No, you don’t care about unemployed America Senator Schumer.

    • Yar

      What is your position on H2-A visas?  I am a small farmer, cheap immigrant labor lowers the value of my work.  I realize food will go up by a factor of 10 when we cut off migrant labor.  I am not willing to exploit workers to leverage my value. I am exploited by the market.  The truth is, America is built on exploitation.  We are now realizing we are part of the exploited.

      • Greg

        All foreigners OUT OF THIS COUNTRY until Americans are employed.

        The wages will have to rise a little to accommodate that but too bad.

        In my daily life I see tens if not hundreds of foreigners taking work from Americans.


        • Yar

          How many generations do you want to go back?
          Are you native American?

          • Greg

            Talking about now buddy.

            Can’t go back to the past as much as I would love to.

          • Hennorama

            Wow.  Talk about extreme nationalism!  So we should expel ALL “foreigners” until the ALL US citizens (what about legal residents?) are employed and unemployment is ZERO?  Talks about kooky ides.

            Yes, we should definitely expel all those nasty foreigners, such as Sergey Brin, the co-founder of Google, who was born in Russia.

            Sure.  Great idea.  Yeahright.

          • Greg

            He has been here since a child and is surely a citizen or a green card holder.

            No, I mean H1-B visa holders H2-B visa holders etc.

            Not wacky at all.

          • Paul

            Putting aside the fact that numerous major innovators in the US have been immigrants and that restricting future immigrants would prevent the US from benefitting from the global brain drain, your view raises an interesting idea that seems common in a lot of posts. By your logic it is morally right for the US to go it alone and let the rest of the world be damned. To hell with non-Americans, they can fend for theirselves in third world poverty. A fact few here have noted is that outsourcing has raised global standards enormously. Go to China today and ask the average person if they are happier today or ten years ago. The edge e US has enjoyed is being eroded and though our standards of living are falling much of the rest of the world is rising fast.

  • Greg

    Satisfy their shareholders by moving jobs overseas?

    Fine. Your charter to do business in America is revoked.

    • Alloren

      If “corporations are people, my friend” how can you revoke  their charter? We need to firm up  language in the Constitution defining personhood as referring only to actual human beings and not business or social entities.

      • Greg

        They need corporate charters to do business in this country.

        Nothing else need be done before you revoke them.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Y6CO5C2HE4WM2OYGCDVWGPRXXM oldman

    Lack of willingness of employers to train will be one the biggest inhibitors of jobs coming back to the US. The people with the experience they expect no longer exist in this country.

  • David

    Rush, as usual, is horrifically bad at math. An unemployed person by definition does not have the resources to simply pay for retraining themselves. Despite the conservative dogma’s assertion that people are inherently lazy, the vast majority of people want and need to work. Living on unemployment is not easy and only a few idiots will game the system to be on it.

    I was injured at my last job due to my employers negligence.
    Not physically able to to the same kind of work, without retraining for the job I have now I would now be destitute and homeless. Because I was in Washington State, my former employer faced no negative consequences for his negligence.

  • BHA_in_Vermont

    IBM used to have “in house” classes or would send people to class. “Classes” now are DIY with Google. Now, especially with programmers, if the project you are working on finishes, you have to find another or get laid off. IBM is more likely to hire an offshore programmer than retrain a U.S. based one in a new language.

    And yes, in the early days before there were computer science degrees, IBM hunted music and language majors. Turns out there is a similar brain “wiring” that makes one good with logic and linear thinking.

  • Sean

    President Obama is trying to help the unemployed, and all he gets from Republicans is obstructionism, obstinance, and stupidity.

    Manufacturing left largely America, then we went to “information industries” and service sector jobs.

    Then the bottom fell out of high tech and 30 years of Republican backwardness caused the financial and housing meltdown… suddenly there wasn’t enough money to support a massive service economy, as no one had enough dispensible income.

    NOW, the entire balance of employment in our economy has been up-ended, and it will probably NEVER rebabalnce to resemble the past in terms of employment.

    IT AMAZES ME that President Obama has managed to keep the economy from collapsing ENTIRELY under such circumstances, ESPECIALLY when he has to contend with more backward Republicanism THAN EVER!!!!

    … and still, Republicans obstruct and do everything they can to make sure the economy doesn’t improve, just because they’ve convinced themselves that making Obama fail secures their stranglehold on America so they can keep blleding it for themselves and their wealthy pals!!


    Obama is our BEST HOPE!!!!

    • Greg

      Obama is just talk.

      Everything he has done has been for the rich and the corporations.

      Romney is the same. Will work only for the rich, not middle class Americans and the poor.

      Do not vote for either one of these corrupt parties that only work for the criminal elite.

      • Che’ Riviera

        Obama is guilty of your accusations, but Romney would be even worse.

  • sam

    What do you think about Manchester Bidwell Training Center? Established by William E. Strickland?

    Do we need more of these?

    Thank you

  • sam
  • sam

    In 1972, William Strickland Jr. was hired to lead Bidwell Cultural and
    Training Center. Mr. Strickland’s dream was to create a unique learning
    environment serving the needs of the community and providing educational
    opportunities to anyone who aspired to positively change their lives.


  • Jared

    Another difference between the German system and the American system is that in Germany job training begins very early.  Certain groups of students go to a university-track high school, some go to a high school where afterwards they are ready for internships  working in a bank, beyond just a teller, does not always require a university degree), and another is for job training/apprenticeships (e.g. electrician, builder, manufacturing, etc.).  Additionally, being an electrician in Germany is perfectly fine and respectable, whereas in certain sections of the US it isn’t.

  • Greg

    Millions of jobs are being done by  illegals and the wages are rock bottom because of it.

    Get the illegals out of this country and Americans can do those jobs and the wages will have to rise.

    (hint, the owners will have to get less profit)

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Y6CO5C2HE4WM2OYGCDVWGPRXXM oldman

    The biggest scam these days are interns – why hire and train low level positions when you can get someone out of school to come work their butt off for nothing or next to nothing?

  • Anne

    I am a retired corporate employee from the field of high technology and totally agree with the caller who said that companies like IBM no longer invest in training their people. These companies are GLOBAL and do not see themselves as American anymore.  They will take advantage of whatever tax breaks they can wring from the US government and the states in which they are located, but they have no stakes in really making those communities better. 

    I know firsthand that what little training companies like IBM are doing is to train new employees in China, India, Brazil and other low wage countries.  And they use their current American employees to do that.  They continue to race to the bottom in pursuit of higher profits.

    What I want to know is, “How we will know when the race to the bottom is over?”  Will workers all over the world be living in grass shacks at that point?

    • TomK in Boston

      It’s part of the end of the compact we once had with the corporations. The deal used to be that they recycled their profits in the USA, with good wages and benefits. They trained workers. The system worked beautifully.

      Now they divert the profits to the executives and/or keep them offshore. They won’t hire anyone who is not a perfect fit for every slot, even if the applicant is talented and could learn the job quickly.

      What’s the response of our leaders? Apparently, the only way to save us from being screwed by the corps is to deregulate them and cut their taxes. Huh? 

      • Hennorama

        One effect of globalization is that capital moves MUCH faster than ever before.  Corporations owe allegiance only to their shareholders, not to their employees, nor to the towns, cities, states or countries in which they operate.

        As such, they tend to be “fair weather friends” and can be enticed to move their operations for a variety of reasons: lower labor costs, better access to markets or natural resources, less regulation, or lower taxes, just to name a few.

        There is no way to stop this phenomenon.  Therefore, one needs to play the game.  Both Pres. Obama and Mr. Romney propose cutting the US corporate tax rates, so this is likely to occur.

    • Tina

      Thank you for this post from your position of knowledge!

    • Che’ Riviera

      You might think it is over when all the Chinese and Indians have refridgeration and cars, but just wait.  AFRICA is the next frontier for multinational corporations.  Hundreds of millions of destitute and poor with no leverage regarding wages.  We won’t see wage equalization in even our children’s lifetimes. 

  • P-Ayer

    I was on of the callers and the reason why retraining worked for me is that:
    1) A biotech company decided to build a facility in my part of the state (MA)
    2) They reached out to a local community college to help develop a program to train workers the company could draw from and also provided small scale instruments to help enhance the training.
    3) the program was available with funding to people who fulfilled the training program requirements - (entrance tests, already with college experience)
    4)The State of MA backed up the training with unemployment to make sure one could complete the training after regular benefits expired.
    5) I applied myself to do the best I could even with kids/house to maintain.
    All these things needed to be in-place for success.  I needed to make sure I did my part and we need, as a people, to make sure that private companies and states work together to help all of us help us move forward in this country.

  • Emily

    Well… I’m currently trying to retrain as a nurse. I’m a certified high school Spanish teacher with an MEd and I can’t get a job because so many schools will not hire people with more than 5 years experience (I have 9) and a master’s degree. The problem is that since I have a BA, they won’t let me into the BSN programs. They want me to go for an MSN, but to do that, I need to take the 8 classes that would get me a BSN (**due to the fact that I have a BA with a good GPA and can/should be able to transfer all the non-nursing major classes), but not get a degree for them. I can’t get grants if I’m not in a degree granting program, so that means I have to figure out how to do 5 lab classes and 3 non-lab classes in the next calendar year and hope I get into a program next September. Most schools are having a hard time scheduling me so late in the year and getting me all my requirements.

    So many “job training workshops” offered through unemployment are stupid things like computer literacy or resume writing. Well, I don’t need those. I need full on retraining. I’m smart, hard working, and super capable. Who’s helping me do that? Nobody. I have to take out MORE loans. I’m still paying off that useless first master’s, which, by the way, the Department of Education of Massachusetts told me I needed.

    • Tina

      I had similar problems.  Actually, I could never get myself considered for even a first year teaching job in a public school because I had a master’s degree.  The schools said I had too much education, therefore putting me into a higher income bracket; and too little experience.  I said I had lots of experience and had even started three different art ed studios and curricular programs from scratch in both a private school and in an alternative school within a public high school, and other areas showing both initiative and experience.  They had their little chart, and my background didn’t fall into their boxes.  I said, “pay me less”, then.  They still said “no”.  So, unless you earn your master’s degree while you are employed at a place that hired you because you would cost them less because you only had a bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree can be an albatross around your neck.  This was true for me way before the economic downturn we are talking about.  This was true for me since about 1976.  I have stacks of resumes and cover letters I used to send out along with other supportive materials:  these stacks are 2-3 inches tall!  

  • JKinVT

    I’m a 57 yr old unemployed electrical engineer with both a BS and MS. I’ve given up on my job search after be discouraged by either being over qualified or out of the job market too long. I’ve been lay off for two years. Currently I’m working at Home Depot for $10/hr. This is not what I envisioned at this point in my life, however one does what one has to in this situation. I believe there is quite a bit of ageism at play in the job market. No employer will pay for training at my age and yet I need and want to work. I’m a skilled woodworker as well and have been trying to establish a custom cabinet and furniture business with mixed success. I have over 35 years of engineering and carpentry experience and yet no one is interested in me. I feel like the forgotten minority that is spiraling downward toward poverty.

    • Greg

      Many, many people are in this boat.

      Do not give up.

      We must build our own economy without these exploiters and rich criminal bloodsuckers.

      Their way is coming to an end. Believe it.

    • Steve_T

       Our shoe size may be different but that bumpy road smells, sounds and fells the same to me.
      Remember when employers need older workers, someone they looked to to keep things going through their experience?

    • Bryce Tacy

      Thank you JKinVT. I have been laid off for six months now, I am turning 43 in a month, my usual career in environmental/physical labor has always paid pretty well, but…I hear constantly at the interviews I do get “so, you feel you have 30 or 40 more years in you?”…in other words they are looking for younger guys and I found out just in a few instances that they did hire a young guy with no or very little experience over me with many years of experience but 15 to 20 years older. I am collecting UC (umemployment) and planning on attending a trade school, which is free thankfully, which I also hope doesn’t cancel out my UC since I am a single father and have bills to pay, but I will be making approx half of what I’m used to making and investing a year of struggles with high gas prices as I drive back and forth to school, all to make half of my salary. All the political mumbo-jumbo I’ve read here had me thinking to just say forget this schooling and take my chances with my fingers crossed and hope I get a good job again…but after reading your post, it takes me back to the days of the steel mills and coal mines closing…I am one of those steel mill workers, I was 22 when I lost my job, I’ve watched so many close friends families lose everything because of it….you made me think back to those days, “one has to do what one has to”. I feel bad for having to work so hard to just make a meager wage, but it’s either that or lose everything…again…and keep just hoping. So I will do the schooling, it’s all I have going for me for now.

  • Greg Stidsen

    What about the role of unions in job training?  I know trade unions have always had apprentice programs where workers get paid a lower wage but receive training and and a way to stay alive financially while gaining specific job skills.  The demise of unions has made America less agile and removed a key ladder to upward mobility.

    • Che’ Riviera

      You must be one of those socialists my conservative friends try to warn me about.

  • http://www.facebook.com/peter.newton.3956 Peter Newton

    What the President AND the Congress MUST do, is create jobs. The tax and market bases are designed to destroy jobs to create profits. As log as we continue down this route, we will have more people than jobs, and what does that do for us?

  • Kim

    wo valuable services in the Greater Boston/Metrowest area – ETRC, three of the state-funded (un)employment offices in Norwood, Newton and Marlboro, provide excellent programs in retraining how you think about yourself, how you present yourself, and how to conduct a successful job search – and all pretty much free.  You don’t need to be on unemployment to use these services, as many think.  And volunteering is a wonderful way in which to explore new career fields…you can do it on line, or more importantly in person – organizations like SOAR55 in Newton can put you in touch with a whole variety of organizations with very specific volunteer needs (not stuffing envelopes) that will introduce you to a huge array of new opportunities – and a volunteer opportunity really can lead to a job.

  • clearlycarl

    Most listeners are missing the point.    Job training prepares one to work for another.    When mid-life workers are laid off, they should look at what they know, what they love, how they work and what their core values are.    After this personal inventory, they can easily imagine a business they could start in their house, garage, or an available lot or building.     This is the way this nation developed before the emphasis on manufacturing giants in World War I.

    Job training just exposes one to the vagaries of established business fortunes, but people with enrepreneurship skills can be in charge of their futures.

    I retired from engineering and went into organic agriculture.   My business is my passion.   I actually regret not having done this 30 years ago.   

    Get off the couch, end the pity party and build your business.

    • Greg

      That’s a great path for many people.

      But not an easy one and certainly not all will succeed.

      Don’t be so hard on your fellow Americans we are 50+ and don’t have what it takes to start their own business.

      In your successful business remember them and hire them if you can.


    • Connie

      I did exactly what you suggest and it is rewarding, but as Greg suggests, it is a difficult path. The only reason I could start my own business is that we can live on my husband’s salary. If the laid-off worker is the primary breadwinner, he or she may not have the luxury to  wait several years before drawing a living wage from the business.

      • Tina

        And many people can’t get their entrepreneurial venture to make enough money to also allow them to buy health insurance.  Perhaps the new law will change this equation.  Let’s hope! (Meanwhile, someone might know and post the answer here?…..)

        • TomK in Boston

          As Connie says, my wife could never have done her startup without relying on my health insurance and salary for a few years. Seems more “socialism” would also be good for capitalism!

          • Tina

            “seems more socialism can help capitalism”: you can say that because you can Think. You’re not trapped in an ideology!! Thanks!

    • TomK in Boston

      As Greg says, that is a great path for many. My wife did and she especially likes being free of the MBA morons in corporations. However, it shouldn’t be used as an excuse to justify shipping jobs offshore, cutting wages and benefits, etc etc. “Sure, we shipped your to to vietnam, no problem, start your own business and stop whining.” We need both.

    • Che’ Riviera

      Not everyone is meant to be an entrepreneur.  I might be as bold as to say most do not.

    • GrandG

      If this is another “do what you love and the money will follow” preacher, then it simply means that you left an extremely lucrative field ( engineering, which required a substantiallly expensive education) with a huge sum of money to pursue a luxurious indulgence. Many of us need a living wage with health benefits that are affordable and for the employer to pay into the social security system for what little it is worth. I would love to write novels all day as an unemployed (3 yrs) English teacher…but I am also a widow with four teens and must respect practicality. Your advice serves the very, very wealthy
      and the newly graduated ( Ivy & top tier) wisely, though.

  • clearlycarl

    JKinVT is like many of my old co-workers.    He has skills, but lacks the personal conviction, that some person, some group, some corporation needs electrical design or building system design.    My thoughts are these:
    1.   Offer to work with staff on an electrification design for new or retooled plant equipment.    Set a compensation for the project in the initial offering, that will be well under the cost to hire an engineer or engage an engineering consulting firm.   Dig in, work hard and the reference from a sitisfied client will put you in business quickly.
    2.   Design modular, code compliant building systems that minimize on-site labor and pitch it to the homebuilders of apartment builders.   Be prepared to build mock-ups and prewired, preplumbed floor and wall systems.    The builder will become your first and best client as he brings the job in ahead of schedule, under estimate cost.

  • Susan

    An idea for another show. . .I’d love to hear Tom interview the authors of this new intriging book. The Servant Economy: Is this where America is headed?  The premise is resonates with meand Tom is so good at digging deep and sparking provacative discussions on these complicated issues.Over the last thirty years, real wages for most Americans have been stagnant despite steadily increasing productivity. But living standards were maintained by various economic cushions, including the long credit bubble. Jeff Faux argues that those cushions have permanently deflated, and unless we deal with the fundamental causes of the downward pressure on wages, the middle class faces a future of  lower living standards and a return to pre-New Deal conditions in which workers had few rights, little bargaining power and suffered the daily indignities of deep class divisions.Both the country’s elected and those who elect them are in denial. Despite the cliché, Washington is not “dysfunctional” writes Faux. It is functioning quite well for those at the top. And the majority of Americans still cling to the illusion that they and their children will be OK as soon as the economy recovers. But Faux argues this is the recovery, and on our present path they will not be OK. Unless we build a politics around this reality, the servant economy will surely be our fate.

    • TomK in Boston

      Sure. The current agenda is a return to about 1900. All the bad stuff we thought was in the past will come back. Look for job creation for maids, butlers, gardeners, drivers, bodyguards, etc. The KKK, sweatshops, extreme poverty etc should have a rebirth. If medicare is replaced by Ryan Groupons that won’t cover costs and SS is cut and privatized, extreme poverty among the elderly will return.  The main thing is the return of the oligarchy, however.

      Yes, voodoo economics is not dysfunctional, it’s working perfectly. It’s designed to redistribute wealth to the top, and that’s what we got. The trickle down stuff is just camouflage. There is no trickle down. Cutting taxes and deregulating the corporations makes the rich richer, period.

      • Tina

        Try to listen to the interview Robin Young does on  WBUR’s show, Here and Now, today (August 6) with an economist (?) from the New School for Social Research.  The guest has some ideas for a retirement savings system that would supplement social security and replace the 401Ks that are failing people miserably and which are sapping people’s savings via wretchedly high fees.  She proposes a government plan, and therefore the oligarchs already dislike her.  She is very clear, however, about the crisis that might be upon us soon.  I’m sure there is a podcast to listen to.  It’s just one aspect of what you’re talking about, but the interview was very instructive. 

        Thanks for your post.  Also, with fewer jobs, there are more illicit economic activities.  This situation only makes drug dealing, theft and fencing, etc., more “reasonable” as a job pathway.  Too many families already experience this in our poorest neighborhoods, to the point where parents don’t let their kids go outside to play thus increasing the likelihood that the kids won’t be healthy physically; and where kids are likely to be the victims of drive-by shootings when they just happen to be “in the way” when gang warfare happens.  This is true in our state; it’s not a made-up idea; I know that the oligarchs could care less about this sad situation which is caused by poverty and lack of job opportunities.   

  • jimmy

    AMEN to the last caller Dominck. That is EXACTLY the problems I encounter trying to get a new job, they want fully trained with bachelors degree minimum, and several years experience in Web Development, I have a certificate and built sites but everyone wants 2-3 years of job experience, well said Dominick, bravo.

  • amuck

    When I was laid off in 2010 I was told at the local OneStop that I was eligible for WIA funding for retraining … but that all the money was gone for the year and to check back in at the beginning of the new fiscal year.  I was still unemployed when that rolled around, and was then told that they didn’t receive *any* funding for it that year! 

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  • Gonetogarden

    Dont overlook the vast amount of training online for no cost at our public libraries. Not everyone learns this way well but even for those, an introduction or a new vocabulary can become familiar which should improve resumes (honestly of course) and job interviews.

  • http://twitter.com/billyfens Bill Fenstermaker

     I’d suggest gov’t retraining might not be as successful as incentives to MOVE where there are jobs that match your skills.

    • Tina

      Family obligations, I’d say, especially health care-related obligations, can be a huge problem if people need to move in order to find work.  Yes, it has happened for centuries, but, surely, we can find better solutions than moving, which so often breaks families apart.  

      My work life, as well as the rest of my life, and that of my nuclear family, was radically affected by my physical distance from not only my parents, but from my sibling, as well.  

  • Txcowboyangels

    Anyone who quotes Rush Limbaugh is not a journalist. It saddens me to think that someone like Tom Ashbrook would get on the radio with an agenda and hide it under the cloak of an honest story and conversation such as, “Do Job Retraining Programs Work?” Tom’s tone in conversation and trying to twist the words from his guest speakers is a clear indication that he is for the republican or should I say Rush Limbaugh party. With Tom’s kind of view, you might as well call this the Fox Network rather than NPR. Please reconsider placing true journalist on NPR who are open to discussion and aren’t there to sell their political agenda. Shame on you Tom.

  • Roy Rogers

    What about the people who take out student loans for re-education? New stats show that people will be paying student loans as they are getting social security

  • Ben G

    What about Freelance workers? In my field, I’m required to continually learn new skills, and change jobs every 2-3 months. Things I learn on my own through online tutorials, and other educational resources. If I didn’t stay up to date, I wouldn’t get hired (and would find my job much more boring). Freelancers allows the companies I work for to be much more flexible with their workforce, hiring when projects are in, and staying small when times are slow.

  • http://www.youtube.com/HeyHondo Unemployment Benefits?

    Prof. Van Horn said “…we spent half a trillion dollars on unemployment insurance during this recession…”

    I don’t have the economics background, but my real world experience is that each worker pays for their own unemployment insurance through payroll deductions in the previous fiscal year, and this unemployment insurance is recovering these personal loans to the government.  There is a stigma that someone on unemployment benefits is taking from other workers, when that person might just be recovering their deducted wages from the previous fiscal year, and only that year, one week at a time.

    • Judith Formalarie

      To correct what your assumption, you are not collecting just what you put in for Unemployment Insurance.  Rather, it is like any other insurance policy.  You put in weekly amounts, which is your payment for the insurance.  However, for NJ, the maximum you can pay for this insurance through payroll deductions is $115.90 per year while the maximum weekly UI rate that one can collect is $611. So you can see that one can collect over 5 years of payments he made into the system with only his very first UI check. Realizing that through the recession, the maiximum time one could collect that weekly amount was for 99 weeks ($611 x 99 wks = $60,489), you can understand Prof. Van Horn’s statement. 

  • Profff

    Short answer is no, worker retraining is not working. Retraining workers to work in areas that are stumbling without repairing the economic vehicle that allows them to enter into long term sustainable jobs is a silly notion. Spending employment security money in short lived employment opportunities so that politicians can brag about a booming sector of the economy has already proven faulty in things like wind energy.

    Long answer is also no. Our government should be investing in things the facilitate and encourage economic growth in the private industry, namely infrastructure. Harnessing energy and selling it cheaply so that local industry can be competitive. Fixing and upgrading roads, rails, canals, ports, and airports so that transporting goods doesn’t prevent commerce from shipping goods or preventing them from being competitive with foreign suppliers. Finding better ways to run our government and all branches of it top to bottom. These are the things that will help the private sector grow which is what fuels the government side of things.

    That relationship between public and private has always been as such when things were prosperous. Anyone who thinks that big government is the solution is as much of a fool as the person who thinks that the government should back out of everything and let the market play out and “pick the winners.”

    Not to say that we shouldn’t have worker retraining programs. I certainly think we should. However, we should be funding things that I listed above and not low interest loans to tech start ups. Let’s strengthen the foundation of which all capitalism rides on and encourage businesses and industry to work here. Train workers for professional and trade jobs. I really can’t stand to hear one more of my friends that has a masters degree in 17th century French Romantic literature complain about how they can’t find a decent six figure job where they only have to work 20 hours a week.

    I applied for and was denied the Washington state CAT, or Commissioner Approved Training. This program allowed people to go back to school while receiving unemployment. I was denied and never told why. However, I took out loans and went to school anyways and sat next to other people that were there through the CAT program. I have my own assumptions as to why, but can only speculate since we were in the same program in the same area at the same time.

    I could go on, but if we are going to train workers, let’s train them to get jobs that will help support more jobs in the future.

  • Hennorama

    In the U.S., neither companies nor government consider worker training to be a key responsibility until there is a crisis.  Companies will train if they experience a lack of properly trained workers to meet demand, and government will train/retrain workers during periods of high unemployment.  This is an enormous waste of resources and talents.

    The way it generally works now, prospective workers here have to speculate and make the investment of time and money (college or vocational schooling) without any certainty of employment in the chosen field.

    Contrast this with the German system of Dual Vocational Training.  After the German equivalant of high school, students apply to a private company for a two or three year training contract. If accepted, the government supplements the trainee’s on-the-job learning with more broad-based education in his or her field of choice at a publicly funded vocational school. Usually, trainees spend three to four days at work and one to two in the classroom. At the end, the theory goes, they come out with both practical and technical skills to compete in a global market, along with a good overall perspective on the nature of their profession. They also receive a state certificate for passing company exams, a credential that allows them to transfer to similar businesses if the training company doesn’t keep them beyond the initial contract.

    Keep in mind that the students are being paid during this time by the training company.

    Also, this prevents students from entering school without job prospects, since they aren’t admitted unless an employer has offered a training contract.

    Both business and government recognize the value of training workers, and the partnership is very successful.  Unemployment in Germany is currently under 6%, and youth unemployment (under 25) is under 8%.  Overall, a great record.

  • Meredith Balk

    i agree with susan near the top, to do a show with the Jeff Faux the author of The Servant Economy. I heard him briefly on wnyc in NY and he should have national exposure–for a realistic look at the future unless we change economic policies to buttress the middle class. 
    Prof Van Horne at the very end of the program briefly told how other nations retrain their laid off workers within a short time of the job loss. Europe’s contrast on the way they train and support their workers to make them productive deserves a whole show of its own, to tell listeners what are the positive examples from Germany and other countries–as they combine resources of govt and business to avoid long unemployment.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_67MZCOUXFSLOM257CRHBKW4AL4 wareinparis

    Sometimes it is worth it. Here’s my abbreviated story. When I lost my job in 1994, I applied for and received unemployment compensation and a one year college certificate program in Human Resources. When I took a temporary job in municipal employment, my recent education was a factor in my being given a chance. I ultimately applied for and got a job (with my temporary municipal employer) that was a tangent to my HR training. For me, it was worth the training dollars and time. I know that I am only one; but for me it was a good thing.

  • Leni

    Job retraining is only part of the miracle you need these days to find a good job! Getting to know the right people is the other major factor! It’s unfortunately, who you know not what you know!!

    • Cassie

      You know it, Leni.

  • http://fb Christine Rogers

    We need to have more segments like this, important, real conversations that effect all of us, thank you smart citizens and NPR.

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  • one4prayer

    I have been unemployed for several years do to Work Comp., They sent me to a job career counselor who said I could go to Ultrasound School to retrain for new career. I went to school, gave my all, Graduated with Honors, the school counselor said they were accredited when I asked her, but they were not CAAHEP accredited.You would have thought that the Workers Compensation counselor should have known, as she is trained to look out for those she is placing in certain fields. I am older, raised four children, worked while raising them, do not have Associates or Bachelor degree. By the time I could accomplish a degree now I will be at least sixty and in debt. I can not get work as an ultrasound tech do to not being able to sit for the ARDMS, CCI or ARRT exams because school was not CAAHEP. Schools will not except me to just get AS or BS degree because that goes with the credentialed programs unless I just go to community college and then University. I was able to sit for ARDMS SPI exam, which I did within six months of graduating and passed the first time, thinking I was doing all I could to achieve my goals, a job and continuing education would reward me. I worked temporary in ultrasound as that was all the work I could get, while still seeking part-time or full time employment and was studing for next exam for RDMS credentail in OB/GYN.Now insurance changed and will not pay ultrasound techs to get paid if they are not credentialed. So do to Credentailling requirement standards and Insurance, No place will even consider me. Also these credentails are supposedly not required by state of CA.
    I need direction? This is the short version of all I have been through. What do I do next? 

Sep 16, 2014
Jasmin Torres helps classmate Brianna Rameles with a worksheet at the Diloreto Magnet School in New Britain, Conn., Wednesday Feb. 22, 2012. (AP/Charles Krupa)

More parents are “red-shirting” their children in kindergarten—holding them back for a year, hoping they’ll have an edge. Does it work? We look.

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From "Rich Hill"

“Rich Hill,” a new documentary on growing up poor, now, in rural America. The dreams and the desperation.

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This Monday, Sept. 27, 2010 file photo shows hikers on the South Kaibab Trail in Grand Canyon National Park, Ariz. (AP/Carson Walker)

Uproar over development plans for the Grand Canyon. We go to the Navajo Nation and the Canyon floor to see what’s at stake.

Sep 15, 2014
In this Thursday, Sep. 11, 2014 photo, Middle Eastern leaders stand together during a family photo with of the Gulf Cooperation Council and regional partners at King Abdulaziz International Airport’s Royal Terminal in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia. (AP/Brendan Smialowski, Pool)

President Obama says he will build a coalition of partners in the Middle East to combat ISIS. We’ll do a reality check on who’s really stepping up for what.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
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Tierney Sutton Plays LIVE For On Point
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We break out Tierney Sutton’s three beautiful live tracks from our broadcast today for your listening pleasure.

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