Government Spending

Job Training Won't Solve Our Employment Problems


Disheartening news from the New York Times on the efficacy of government funded "job retraining," that great hope for an economy in transition:

…for all the popularity of these government-financed programs, there are questions about whether they actually work, even as President Obama's stimulus plan directs $1.4 billion more to retraining and other services for people who have lost their jobs….

….a little-noticed study the Labor Department released several months ago found that the benefits of the biggest federal job training program were "small or nonexistent" for laid-off workers. It showed little difference in earnings and the chances of being rehired between laid-off people who had been retrained and those who had not.

In interviews, the authors of the study and other economists cited several reasons that retraining might not be effective. Many workers who have lost their jobs are older and had spent their lives working in one industry. In need of a job right away, many pick relatively short training programs, which often have marginal benefits. Job retraining is also ineffective without job creation, a point made by several economists who have long cautioned against placing too much stock in it. Finally, workers trying to pick a new field cannot predict the future of the labor market, especially in a time of economic upheaval.

"I can't tell you with any degree of certainty, and I've been doing it for 20 years, what the hot jobs are going to be," said one of the authors, Kenneth R. Troske, an economics professor at the University of Kentucky.

The rest of the story has various mostly depressing specific stories of job retraining failures from Michigan.

Nick Gillespie from 2006 on who government job training programs do help–those who administer them.