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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

Guests

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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