Thursday, July 1, 2010

Whatever Happened To On the Job Training

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.


  1. Is the FDIC Game Show on your mind? Well, good luck with that!

  2. Well, the home buyer tax credit isn't too high a bar to o'erleap, but yeah, better than that. It seems a lot of the problem is basic math, so the culprit seems likely to be either schools or workers themselves.

  3. Hi Tzi!
    It's SirWellington from the Economist. (Please ignore my handle-its from middle-school, I was track runner...) I hope you are making lots of money on your blog! Do you get paid if I click on the advertisers or do I have to buy their products?

  4. My roommate and I are in the suffering under 25 part of the labor market (14% participation rate-it's pretty rough) He was trained by his employer and I am being trained by my current and was by previous employer (which laid me off after training me for a year!--crazy right-though training for that profession takes about three years).
    My roommate was also laid-off by his employer for about a year and then they rehired him when work picked up.
    So, I would say that this employer preference speaks to them not wanting to hire. Period. It's just Crapola. My previous employer that put a year a year of training in me could hire me back later probably-it was a better job overall (since the training kinda closes out a lot of other people).
    Training is a part of labor costs. They are trying to cut labor costs by cutting training. It's a no go.

  5. Let me add:
    My roommate doesn't have a college degree. I would say his general knowledge of all basic school subjects could, well, be better. His employer sent him through a six week training program to teach him to upgrade corporate and small business computer systems and install batteries. I've helped him with his taxes but he is in charge of fixing everything wrong with my computer and my computer has so far loved the attention.

  6. SirW (would you prefer that or something else?),

    I'd agree with all that, the job market sucks right now (I'm in the same rough employment group and am currently somewhat underemployed myself) and employers don't want to gamble on anyone, training is just a fixed cost. That's why I think there would be something of an opportunity for the government to temporarily fund training so that employers don't have to worry about the cost as much when they are trying to trim labor costs. Of course, even if they did go this way there's no way of saying it wouldn't be like the mortgage modification scheme where businesses felt it was more trouble than it's worth, but training costs still looks like a hiring barrier that could be overcome to me.

    Which of course, doesn't stop employers from aggressively cutting their labor forces even when they've made an investment which may turn out to be penny wise pound foolish.

  7. Oh, SirW, I forgot to mention. So far I haven't made a penny off the blog. I just left the ads on since I'm ever the optimist and didn't feel that their inclusion detracted anything. It's certainly not an effective way of generating revenue. It might help if I knew the answers to questions like whether or not you have to click on them, I really don't know.

  8. Tzi,
    Arg. I'm the wrong person to ask. I think with GoogleAdWords you get paid by page views. I'm going to think on it, because I was going to start a blog for someone a bit ago and there are some free services that can really help you make money.

  9. SirW,

    I don't worry too much about the money aspects since I don't really want to write anything I think would make money. To get the views I need, I'd either have to write about subjects with wider audiences than history and politics or I'd have to be a screeching partisan when my actual views are more mixed. I'll be absolutely thrilled if I can get enough traffic to go over the minimum amount for them to send me a check once a year or so, more because of the indication that I'm getting traffic than for the actual amount earned. Now if I can use my blog to finagle my way into a job, that would be a more rewarding side benefit.

    From when I was reading about starting a blog, if you want to make money the most important thing is choosing a topic that can make money, which I knew I wasn't when I started.