Just finished reading this NY Times article on how companies can't fill open positions because they can't find any workers skilled enough for manufacturing jobs. What ever happened to on the job training? Why do companies feel entitled to workers who can walk onto the job knowing what to do, find ways to train them to do the work. Of course, you can't expect to teach basic reading and math skills in a quick job specific training course but you could teach basic computer skills for job specific machine operation.
Perhaps the government can structure an incentive program specifically for companies to educate underskilled workers on the job so they can do the work the company needs. I can't think of a way to do this without opening things up for abuse in the 30 seconds I've spent on the problem, but just framing a jobs program in this fashion may get some traction.
Sounds better to me than the first time home buyer tax credit anyway.