Friday, July 17, 2009

Wishful Thinking

"The Fed's forecasts suggest that the recovery when it comes, is unlikely is unlikely to have much immediate impact on the job market.Most Fed governors...expect that the unemployment rate will be 10 percent or higher in the final quarter."

Neil Irwin, "Fed Sees Heightened Joblessness Drawing Out Recovery," The Washington Post, July 19, 2009.

All across America workforce experts and wannabes are crafting proposals for a piece of the Department of Labor's $500 million training dollars for green jobs, jobs in emerging industries, and health care jobs. The best of them will be facing up to a big fat paradox. The best of workforce training and education starts with real jobs -- and getting a job equals graduation. There are certainly pockets of existing jobs somewhere in the economy that need skilled workers. But how many jobs? And how many without an existing queue of dislocated workers.

So, the question becomes what's your tolerance for wishful thinking? And are there ways to increase the probability that your wishful thinking will come true? A couple of stategies come to mind. A first is to pick industries where your region has some long-term strength and scale -- and where shortages existed in the past. No easy task. A second is to make sure people in training programs get some type of certificate that has some meaning in the labor market -- not another certificate for the refrigerator. A third is to focus on fundementals -- basic skills, customer service, and technology and stipend people so they're making a few bucks while they skill up. A fourth is to link closely with economic development projects that have job creation potential and become a preferred part of the worker supply chain -- housing, infrastructure, retrofitting. A fifth idea is to support what people are doing all by themselves -- going back to college while working part time -- just make it easier.

A fear another employment and training expectations wreck. The more the President talks about it, the more I worry. Training doesn't create jobs -- except for the trainers. Will there be jobs in the end. I hope so.

1 comment:

EconGrrl said...

Beautifully written.

"training doesn't create jobs, except for the trainers"