Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Training for Jobs

"I thought after I finished the [training] program,I'd be working. I only had three jobs with the union and only one of them was longer than a week."

Delonta Spriggs, quoted in: V. Dion Haynes, "Blacks hit hard by economy's punch," The Washington Post, November 24,2009.

It's tough times. But there is no reason to raise expectations by training people and then not delivering on the jobs. Construction jobs are way down -- so why train new people if you have the people you trained last year on the bench? Training organizations take the money and government agencies and policymakers feel more comfortable training rather than creating jobs. What a waste.

One way to deal with the job problem is to create public service jobs that go along with the training. I started out in the community development field in the 1970s running construction training programs using CETA public service jobs. We rehabilitated old buildings and worked with three unions. Young people got jobs for a year,picked up skills, completed their GED's when needed and moved on into apprenticeships, other jobs or back to school. For the most part, it worked.

Now we're thinking about public jobs again, at last. But the same old questions about targeting to low income,substitution, make work, and scandal are surfacing as well, paralyzing the thoughtful ones ensconced in the halls of government. No single new investment will turn the jobs picture around for everhyone. I hope that policy-makers have the guts to create a public jobs program devoted to low-income young adults in our urban and rural communities.

1 comment:

Colin Austin said...

The public jobs approach may be particularly relevant for the green sector movement. If we want our economy headed in a green direction, why not get people employed in the work right now? Emerald Cities is one potential platform, building the "grid" is another.