Jobs and Jobs Training Archive

Since I have written quite a few blog articles related to jobs and jobs training, I thought I would create an archive for your perusal. Jobs go along with “economics”, without an “economy” there are no jobs. So here it goes, hope you enjoy the Archive, I have enjoyed writing the articles and as you can see the theme is a “work in progress”:

Jobs Training
Part 1: Jobs in the Mono-economy
Part 2: Past prescriptions
Part 3: The job training dilemma
Part 4: Jobs training, the more things change, the more the stay the same
Part 5A: The Re-tooling of a titan: Chicago
Part 5B: Jobs training, search for solutions

Signs of the Times #6: Peripheral Stuff
Signs of the Times #8: Thriving or/dying industries
Are Boomers causing a business bust?
Ghost Ship
Import-Export Bank
The Real cost of doing business

Getting a Job
Let’s talk about minimum wage
Idea of a resume` is so passe`
Immigration policy or illegal immigration policy
The American Dream
The Temp has gained Respect

Studs Terkel, a Chicago journalist and TV personality, wrote a book called “Working“. He interviewed the “common” man or woman and recorded their lives as they related to work. We are defined by our job or craft, or skill, or “calling.” We have pride in ourselves when we feel worthiness and “worth.” Perhaps that’s what’s missing right now in the American spirit, it’s our “worth.” Let’s restore it, re-write the recipe or create a new one.

By the way, don’t forget to VOTE! It’s your patriotic duty and contributes to a feeling of “worth.”

Are the “Boomers” causing a Business Bust?

I guess the “Boomers*” are now being blamed for the short-sightedness and “short-term” instead of “long-term” planning that Corporate America should have been doing all along. Here’s an article in the Chicago Tribune® written by Rex Huppke: As boomers leave workforce, transfer of knowledge is key. Basically as the Baby Boomers are retiring their “job-related” knowledge retires with them!

*Post WWII babies born between 1946 and 1964)

Here’s a very short story of mine about the value of “tacit knowledge” as it was named by Prof. Dorothy Leonard in Mr. Huppke’s above article:

We needed a plumber (ha, who doesn’t need a good plumber) and thus called one to our home. During his visit with us, the plumber commented how difficult it was to find new help for his business. He said that the men (in this case) came with the requisite “book” knowledge but did not have the “trouble-shooting” knowledge needed in order to “problem-solve” plumbing issues. Unfortunately, that “tacit knowledge” only comes with years of working the “plumber’s trade” and being presented with hundreds of flooding basements, leaky faucets, over-flowing toilets, plugged drains, and the milieu of plumbing problems that only a really handy husband, friend, or expert plumbing can solve.

Of course, apprenticeships and trade schools were common here in the States during the 40s, 50s, and 60s. During high school, there were courses called “shop” meaning those courses that introduced teenaged students to blue-collar-type skills such as carpentry or auto repair. Here’s an article from (a business magazine) written in 2012 that talks about California eliminating “shop classes”: The Death of Shop Class and America’s High Skilled Workforce.

Call these “unintended” consequences of “off-shoring”, H1-B visa permits, trade agreements, cost-cutting measures for financial/economic reasons… call it or point a physical or virtual finger at whatever one’s wishes to blame but… we “are” economically where we “are.” First, blue-collar jobs were “lost” in the US to lower-paying jobs in companies in other countries, then white-collar jobs started vanishing in the US, funny thing about some of those jobs, the “jobs” still might remain in the US but the guy or gal in the cubicle next to you was hired by a contractor agency who was not domiciled in the US and the co-worker might be working here with one of those H1-B work visas.

Now we can get into “lack” of skilled workers to fill the positions, etc.; but just like China’s One Child Policy has really come to slap them in the face, US citizens have been smacked in the face for several decades due to short-sighted policies, lack of proper training policies, or lack of long-range planning (to name a couple of reasons).

I have written a six-part blog series on the subject of jobs. Here are the links for your edification, enjoyment, amusement, or gain in “tacit knowledge”.


Horseshoe Nail


It’s strange (at least to me) how one topic or comment or news article in this case, can lead one “on and on” to different searches on the Internet. In this particular case, the news article that touched off my latest rummage of the ‘Net’ is a news piece on the Financial Post, a Canadian newspaper. Well, in thinking about my cyber journey a little more, it’s not so strange. My head is full of the two presidential conventions just ended and all of the rhetoric that transpired therein.

The particular Financial Post article to which I am referring is this one: Inside the Aging Lock that is one breakdown away from crippling North America’s Economy. After reading the news article it triggered in my head the old adage “the battle was lost because of a horseshoe nail.” So I searched around for the correct version of this adage and found that Benjamin Franklin wrote a version of it in his “Poor Richard’s Almanac” news paper. Here’s a version of Franklin’s verse at:

What I really want to talk about is the Financial Post article. Basically, the “Soo Locks” are two water locks that control access to the Great Lakes of North America. The Great Lakes  are: Lake Superior, Lake Ontario, Lake Michigan, Lake Erie, and Lake Huron. They are “fresh” water lakes vs. “salt water” such as our oceans, the Atlantic and Pacific contain. The Great Lakes are connected to the Atlantic Ocean via the St. Lawrence Seaway.

If we are to believe the article from the Financial Post, the Poe Lock, which is 50 years old, is vulnerable to serious breakdown and economic impact to the U.S. as well as Canada. Getting back to the Presidential conventions and the themes of the political parties’ platforms vis-à-vis economic issues, to quote from the news article: “A six-month shutdown of the Poe Lock … would plunge the nation into recession, closing factories and mines, halting auto and appliance production in the U.S. for most of a year and result in the loss of some 11-million jobs,” the report warns.”

There are obviously other “issues” that one could pick to launch into about the types of jobs these “11-million” are referring to, where the freighters are taking the out-going cargoes, are jobs being lost because of this “shipping”, whatever else one can think of. My point is that how short-sighted are we getting (have we gotten) that our U.S. economy is disastrously threatened??? We have not recently heard about the sequester funding bill that was enacted in Congress and its impact on the U.S. economy for a while now. What potential disasters that legislation may be causing thanks to the lack of elected officials not doing their jobs.

Anyway, here’s an interesting paper written by Robert M. Williamson For the Want of a Nail. It highlights Ben Franklin’s adage and discusses the idea of apprenticeships for job training. I guess I started out this blog entry talking about water access but ended up talking about jobs, that’s what happens when one’s mind wanders across the Internet. Relative to the jobs or “lack of” issue, I have written several articles about that in the past. If you are interested, here is a link to the compilation of these articles:  Jobs Archive.

How can we, with conscience, allow the deterioration of our society because of such “craziness.” It’s all about “money,” the lack of it, too much of it, too little of it, the temptation of it and what it can buy, who has it and who doesn’t have it or enough of it. It brings to mind a motion picture “Other People’s Money”. In the movie Danny DeVito is a Wall Street “raider” who buys and sells companies for their assets. There is a happy ending to the movie, the employees save their jobs and a manufacturing plant stays “vital” in the community. The real lesson from this movie is the value of “compromise”, this value is sorely lacking in our current Federal, State, and perhaps local governments. Custer’s last stand ended up with a slaughter and it seems we just can’t get out of that type of mentality!


What is the REAL cost of doing business in the U.S.?

Answer: It’s pretty cheap when you are passing the “cost of doing business” on to the consumer* of your goods and services!

(*or perhaps an employee or “independent contract employee)

Here I am reading my “hard copy” newspaper, the Chicago Tribune®; actually, I get many of my blog posting ideas from reading the newspaper. Anyway, an article in the Friday, July 01, 2016, Business Section of the Trib is entitled “Grubhub delivery drivers sue over contractor status.” Several terms are used in the news article: gig economy, sharing economy and on-demand economy. Reading this article made me think of the Uber® lawsut, here’s a link to those details: Uber lawsuit.

I have written previously about “Killer Apps”, the software** used on smartphones in order to call, locate, hire, order, purchase, contact, WOW…I’m running out of active verbs!

**Google definition: What is mobile programming?

Mobile application development is a term used to denote the act or process by which application software is developed for handheld devices, such as personal digital assistants, enterprise digital assistants or mobile phones.

Anyway, it all boils down to JOBS! Another posting that I have written, Peripheral Stuff also addresses the “work world” in which we are now living. Working “temporary” in past decades was considered “temporary” most of the time. It evolved into “permanent” temporary work for many during the 1980s. Another concept, “the independent consultant” also evolved during the 1980s, and 1990s. After the dot-com crash in 2001 and that happened just before the “9-11” tragedy in September of 2001, thousands of people were working as “independent consultants.”

Every time a company wants me to accept a digital copy of a statement or invoice, it “grates me”. This is a “cost of doing business.” They “save” money by not having to generate, print, and mail a “hard copy” to me. So, OK, they email it to me. Guess what! I have to “print out” the statement or invoice. Company ABC just passed on their “cost of doing business” to me. I believe in having a “hard copy” for record purposes. Speaking of “temporary”, what’s temporary is literally everything that’s stored digitally! Lose electricity, have a magnet pass over stored data, break a CD (that happened to me) and, gee, your data is gone. That’s what “back-ups” are all about. So, mine are “hard copies.” (Here’s my “take” on digital currency, Bitcoin and the Perception of Value.)

Getting back to the theme of my post, “independent contractors” are rebelling. Business models are reliant on the use of “cheap labor,” low cost of labor, low operating margins and high profits. Guess I’m ranting about “capitalism” in general but the United States has been built on capitalism. So I’m not against “capitalism”, after all it “gave” me several jobs.  In another blog post, The Idea of a Resume is so passé, I have commented about the mechanics and “orchestrations” involved in successfully getting a job circa 2016.

As usual, I’m just pointing out the “yin” and the “yang” of issues. When is a job “a job” and not just a “side-job”? The IRS has a measurement for determining whether income reported, was generated from a ‘hobby” or from “taxable work.” This is for “expense” reporting purposes. In other words, can you deduct the gasoline, car repairs, office supplies, etc., from your income, and thus not pay income tax on the income generated by your work-related activity. Is the expense a legitimate deduction? A company expenses such items as a “cost of doing business.”

I have written a 6-part series on jobs, here’s a link to them: Signs of the Times #3: Thoughts on jobs and jobs training. By the way, I wish you luck and good fortune in your “PERMANENT” job hunts.

Signs of the Times #8: Thriving or Dying: Which type of industry do YOU work in?

America’s 25 Dying Industries

By Evan Comen and Samuel Stebbins   December 16, 2015 2:43 pm EDT


America’s 25 Thriving Industries

By Samuel Stebbins and Evan Comen   December 16, 2015 2:42 pm EDT


The above two articles were published in December, 2015 on the website The America’s 25 Dying Industries  article is an interesting “read” and, of course, encapsulates the decline of the U.S. manufacturing story unfolding over the last 100 years. Manufacturing jobs (blue collar jobs) were being exported for decades but not necessarily mourned by the “white collar” segment of the population. After all they were only “blue collar” jobs! Well, thanks to the ever-accelerating high technology discoveries and innovations happening in the U.S., the “white collar” community also starting experiencing an exodus of jobs. Ironically, the “white collar” jobs did not necessarily leave the U.S. borders. The outsourced jobs are still here state-side but the people executing the tasks of the “outsourced” jobs are working for contractors such as Tata who is headquartered in the country of India. It’s a high-tech job sourcing contractor, one of many. So the jobs are still “here” but are being performed by H1-B visa employees imported into the U.S. and displacing U.S. employees who were performing the jobs previously. This is not an attack on Tata after all they are taking legal advantage of American H1-B visas, a legal U.S. “job vehicle” for filling job vacancies here in the U.S. The point of these jobs, however, is that they did not “leave” the U.S., only the “sourcing” of them did!

The second article, America’s 25 Thriving Industries, also published in December, 2015, features such a different fabric-design of America in the second decade of the 21st century! The post-WWII (World War II), 20th century make-up or design of the U.S. was as an industrial giant; a manufacturing behemoth, a job-creation machine with opportunity for those who worked hard. Our economic bubble grew and grew and grew. It was fueled by American know-how and American sweat. The muralist Diego Rivera painted some marvelous Industrial America scenes in U.S. public buildings. See the following two links for examples of a mural that was painted in Detroit, Michigan.–1932-33-large.html,–1933.html


What’s different about the “dying” vs. the “thriving” industries listed in these two articles? The “dying” industries listed are: clothing (apparel) manufacturing, physical printing of newspapers, communications equipment manufacturing, mill work such as knit fabrics, hosiery and sock mills,  broad woven fabric, curtain and linen, and textiles mills; mobile and manufactured home components, computer media such as CDs and tapes. Photofinishing, (remember the companies Kodak and Polaroid?). The inventions and discoveries of the late 1800’s and early 1900’s created the groundwork structure of the U.S. industrial revolution. The invention of the microchip (among other later 19th century discoveries) laid the ground work for the computer and Internet revolutions and the birthing of the jobs into the 21st century. Let’s look a little deeper into the industries mentioned in the article “America’s 25 Thriving Industries.” Ironically, six of the “thriving” industries mentioned in the December, 2015, article are already “dying or dead.” They are “oil industry” related and the American shale oil industry literally blew itself out in about five years!!! Wow, how’s that for accelerating job obsolescence. Five industries mentioned are agriculture (farming) related. There’s nothing wrong with that. After all agriculture was a “family” business up until the “corporate farms” starting buying up family farms, the children of farmers went to the city to find adventure, the automobile created the “suburb” after WWII, and farm land was “lost” to the building of the suburb.

Seven of the “thriving” industries mentioned probably would be considered small or “micro” businesses. Wine-making, beekeeping, dry pea and bean farming. How about goat farming! Talk about “back to basics”, it would appear we are coming full circle in our cultural evolution. The pendulum is swinging back. I have no problem with that but like the high tech revolution in the 80s and 90s, people aren’t necessarily equipped to handle the jobs or the change very well (efficiently).

After all, how does a college education specifically prepare one to work at a winery or on a goat farm? How about knowing how to grow beans or corn successfully? Or, tend colonies of bees for commercial pollination use? Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders wants to give everyone free college education. What kinds of education are needed to fill these “thriving” industry jobs? Obviously, more agricultural with some finance expertise, than perhaps scientific skills such as engineers.

I’m like most everyone else, trying to make sense every day of what’s happening to our economy and have empathy for the younger members of the extended family as far as concern for job security, the job market, the future of current jobs now held by them.

In fact, one of my nephews has LOST his job not because it has become obsolete or an H1-B employee has taken the job BUT our state government can’t get their act together and pass a STATE BUDGET! My cousin was lucky enough to change jobs last year (2015) because her old job employer could not pay her on-time. WHY! Because our state could not pass a State Budget! Well, I’m getting into another totally different subject with my tirade here, but you get the idea. Everything is so crazy now. An industry thought to be a newer “thriving” industry can disappear in a very short time. Old skills lost by innovation and commercialization such as farming are now becoming “in vogue” again. Some industries are trying to “re-shore” their manufacturing back to the U.S. and complain that they can’t find the “skills” to fill the available jobs! Well, I say to that, I’m so happy that jobs are destined to return to the U.S. but….Mr. Businessman, what do you expect when those skills have not been in demand here for years. People can be trained but that takes time and money.

I have written about the issues of jobs and job training in the past. Here are links to those blog articles:

Jobs, jobs, jobs, and the mono-economy of the new millennium-part 1

Some past prescriptions to the jobs-employment problem-part 2

Jobs, jobs jobs and the job-training dilemma-part 3

Part-4-jobs, jobs-training-the more things change, the more they stay the same

Part-5A: Jobs and the re-tooling of an industrial-titan Chicago

Part-5B: Jobs, training and the search for long-term solutions


Part 5B: Jobs Training and search for solutions

An old song School Days, School Days referred to readin’, and riten’ and ‘rithmetic, it was written around 1907 by Edwards and Cobb. Around the 1980’s “plus C” was verbally added to this notion of a complete education, “C” being the symbol for computers. Even though there were issues or challenges of language communication within the U.S. educational system, reading and writing and arithmetic and later computers seemed to work for the masses. The Germans, Italians, Swedes, Irish, Poles, and Latin Americans who immigrated to Chicago, IL, appeared to “get it.” Get an adequate education that is. What has happened? Why does Chicago contain a local population of possibly 53% illiteracy? We have a three “Ls” issue: language, literacy, and learning capability. My best friend taught 1st grade for 25 years in the parochial school system in Chicago. One time she told me she had 10 different languages in the classroom. I asked her how she could teach a student with whom she could not communicate. She said “Very patiently.”

Somewhere along the line, the educational system broke down and we have never been able to rebuild it properly. In the training and development field, we, the instructional designers, are taught to separate “need to know” from “nice to know”. It’s a grueling part of the design process when gathering information and knowledge to include in a job training event or lesson.  The “need to know” items are called the enabling components of a training event. In other words, in order to train a mechanic how to tune-up a Ford Focus car, what are all the items that are involved in the tune-up, how do they properly work, how do they sound or look or feel when not properly working, what tools are needed to do the tune-up job properly, how do you properly use each tool to perform the tune-up. You get the idea.

If the population is not prepared with what instructional designers call the “prerequisite knowledge”, they will not succeed in being properly trained, given that the training event is properly defined. The trainee or learner must bring adequate language, level of literacy and learning skills to be successful. If a car is out of alignment, it is adjusted and realigned to put it back on the right track. Think of a scaffold and its supporting ladders. The scaffold is the minimum knowledge required by the learner to successfully fulfill a training event. Every rung of the ladder BELOW the scaffolding is the enabling knowledge required by the learner. If any rungs on the ladder are missing or broken, it’s a problem for the worker climbing the scaffolding ladder. It’s the same for the learner, no amount of repeat training events will aid the learner if he/she does not speak English adequately, read English at the appropriate level, and of course have the capability to perform at the expected level of learning capability.

There are solutions to the current American employment dilemma. We need long term solutions not quick start band aids. U.S. companies need certain skilled labor now, the short-term needs are possibly clouding the long-term vision. Unfortunately there are unemployed that cannot be re-trained for needed jobs. There are certainly others who can be re-trained but they need time to travel through the necessary “learning curve” for the available jobs. We are challenged as to how to aid Corporate America to have available now the appropriate candidates to meet their needs yet allow for the internships or apprenticeships necessary to train those who are “trainable.” There are those who suggested that something like the Works Progress Administration (WPA) of the 1930’s be reestablished to put the unemployed to work. Some of that probably wouldn’t be a bad idea either. It really isn’t a good idea to have unemployed collecting money and not doing anything. A person’s ego comes so much from the idea of self-worth and that comes from working.

I hope that you have enjoyed reading my series about jobs training issues. Since I spent part of my life teaching adults and designing job training experiences, I guess this particular subject has been my passion. The advents of the “Personal Computer Age” and on its heels, the “Internet Age” have rocked the world economically, physically, and psychologically, not just intellectually. May I quote from Yoda, “May the Force be with you.” In this case, I mean the force of knowledge, intelligence and education for everyone.

Here are links to the rest of my “Jobs” series:

Part 1: Jobs, jobs, jobs, and the Mono-economy of the New Millennium

Part 2: Some past prescriptions to the jobs employment problem

Part 3: Jobs, jobs, jobs and the job training dilemma

Part 4: Jobs and jobs training, the more things change, the more they stay the same

Part 5A: Jobs and the Re-tooling of an Industrial Titan: Chicago

Part 5A: Jobs and Re-tooling Industrial Titan: Chicago

Chicago is having an identity crisis. Along with a local budget crisis and a State monetary crisis, there are seismic changes happening in the “City of Big Shoulders.” But first a little retrospective of the city:

Currently land once known as “South Works” and owned by U.S. Steel  resides in Chicago on the Southeast side ensconced along the southern edge of Lake Michigan. To quote the Chicago Tribune “(T)he site…once employed 20,000 people.” The plant site encompasses 589 acres of land and has been vacant since 1992 when the steel plant finally shut down.

In the 19th century, Chicago was the meat packing center of the U.S. The meatpacking district was 475 acres in size and employed more than 25,000 people. Chicago coincidently also became the railroad capital of the country. It was the place where all east and westbound trains converged. To quote the Chicago Historical Society encyclopedia, “More lines of track radiate in more directions from Chicago than from any other city.” And over 30,000 Chicagoans worked for the railroads in the 1930s.

Besides meat packing, Chicago was also an important food processing center with companies such as Armour and Swift, plus the mail-order empires of Sears Roebuck and Montgomery Ward. Eventually what happened to the displaced workers as these industries downsized, right-sized, out-sourced, closed down, merged, and retooled for technology and posterity?

Technology, innovation, cost, and demand influence an economy. The expansion of air flight allowed faster travel in shorter time spans. Instead of spending days traveling on the “rails”, one could fly the same distance in hours. The advent of mini-mills sealed the fate of massive complexes such as the “South Works” steel plant. The catalog giants Sears and Montgomery Wards moved from mail order to retail stores to almost extinction (Sears) or absolute oblivion (Wards). Changes in distribution and decentralization of meat distribution sealed the demise of the Chicago stock yards.

In the 20th century, Carl Sandberg poetically called Chicago the “city of big shoulders.” One could say it was in reference to its blue-collar citizenry. In the 21st century, Chicago’s high tech community is ignited because Chicago startups like Groupon are helping to reengineer Chicago’s identity from a rust-belt economy to a technology centered economy. The reason the label “rust belt” was coined was because the Midwest of the United States did not respond efficiently and/or expediently to changes in international trade as well as regional or national economic conditions.

Two references in the Encyclopedia of Chicago, “Work Culture” and “Work” speak to how Chicago approached educating or vocationally preparing the young for the work world. There is no reference to any service or mechanism for retraining of the work person moving from one job to another. It is interesting to note that because of scientific management and the “division of labor” into very small tasks, an “unskilled” labor force was probably not seen as a negative influence on the local economy. A ‘blue-collar” worker could flow from one job to another fairly easily. Local “connections”, politics, and/or just plain luck landed you another job. Only as the post-industrial age advanced into the computer and now Internet Ages, are unbalances more and more noticeable between labor skills, job openings, and educational requirements of the workforce. It’s the ever increasing velocity of change and cacophony of choices to which changes respond, that are combining to challenge the definition of “job readiness” now.

One solution to Chicago’s ongoing labor vacuum might be another Washburne trade school type solution as mentioned here but with a 21st century “twist”.

Here are links to the rest of my “Jobs” series:

Part 1: Jobs, Jobs, Jobs, and the Mono-economy of the New Millenium

Part 2: Some past prescriptions to the jobs employment problem

Part 3: Jobs, jobs, jobs, and the job training dilemma

Part 4: Jobs and jobs training, the more things change, the more they stay the same

Part 5B: Jobs training the search for long-term solutions

Part 4: Jobs Training, more things change, they stay same

First a little background:  in the year 2011, United States Senator Coburn spearheaded an awareness of the complexity of the U.S. job training strategies as implemented by various then-current laws and mandate legislation. I wrote the following commentary in 2011:

The current fiasco over the U.S. debt ceiling, amount of debt owed to creditors and the amount of revenue available for the current and future government check book, has raised the responsibility of job (lack of) training effectiveness and appropriateness to the level of presentation and focus during the debt ceiling legislation discussions over the weekend of July 30, 2011. During a happenstance viewing of C-SPAN I caught Senator Coburn’s presentation to the Senate regarding the current (year 2011) state of Federal job training initiatives.  Senator Coburn made reference to his report entitled “Help Wanted: How Federal Job Training Programs are Failing Workers”   “Help Wanted: How Federal Job Training Programs are Failing Workers” and also a report written by the GAO entitled “January 2011 Multiple employment and training programs report.”

Senator Coburn’s criticism of current (i.e. year 2011) and previous jobs programs is their poor record of effectiveness, impact on job training, widespread lack of focus and, unfortunately, gross examples of fraud. The good news, it is felt that job training programs are a good idea, it’s the execution, administration, duplication, policing, and application of Federal funds that are being criticized. These management skills are not easy to execute in a small company let alone by the Federal Government from, perhaps, one thousand miles away from the program’s recipient. In fact, an example in Senator Coburn’s report features a job training program (“16. Bureaucracy Curtails Employment Options for DC Youth, Causes Job Lay-Offs”) right in WashingtonD.C.

A common theme of the focus of job training is its target of a specific population such as “low income” or minority populations. Training any “population” for jobs that aren’t “there” (which incidentally was the criticism of some of the programs outlined in Senator Coburn report) is a waste of time, money, human capital and undermines any future incentive for offering job training. Employment opportunity is a local thing. Training people for jobs you hope will “appear” and not the jobs that local employers are offering and anticipating in the near future, defeats the purpose of job training. Warren Buffett stated in a year 2011 interview with Bloomberg News that “You hire when you have demand. You respond to demand.” Ergo, job training should respond to demand. There should be an “understanding” of time needed to fulfill the training process, it’s called the “learning curve.”

One solution to trimming the expense of job training programs is to “co-locate” in facilities with other like-minded programs. In the highlights of the GAO report it states “An obstacle to further progress in achieving greater administrative efficiencies is that little information is available about the strategies and results of such initiatives. In addition, little is known about the incentives which states and localities have to undertake and whether additional incentives may be needed. What is concerning is the idea that states and localities need “incentives” to offer job training programs or reasons to cut physical plant costs that make sense. One could refer to “keeping a finger on the pulse” of a local economy and the myriad of businesses that reside there. It has been mentioned by others that the community college system and even high school vocational programs have worked in the past with local businesses to train future employees.

It’s at least a two-prong approach that’s needed: 1. education to teach people to read and write (if they can’t write, they can’t READ writing either); 2. job training that is obviously focused on skills that business needs an employee to have in order to be productive. OK, let’s make this a 3-prong fork, business needs to offer job training also, and this could be considered enhancing the human capital of the company. As long as the education and training of people is considered an “expense” and not an “investment,” things are not going to change in the United States. So getting back to Senator Coburn, cutting programs and chopping off money is not the answer, changing focus, mindset, and direction is.

Here’s a year 2012 fact check regarding Mitt Romney’s reference to a plethora of government funded job training programs:

In conclusion, this is the year 2015, soon to be year 2016, a Presidential election year in the United States. The ‘jobs” issue is becoming more and more complicated because of a new trade  agreement signed by President Obama called the Trans Pacific Partnership:

In the next part of this Jobs series, I bring it quite local featuring the City of Chicago and its “job readiness” strategies or “lack of”.

Here’s the links to earlier postings in this series:

Part 1: Jobs, jobs, jobs and the Mono-economy of the New Millennium

Part 2: Past prescriptions to the employment problem

Part 3: Jobs, jobs, jobs and the Job Training Dilemma

Part 5A: Jobs and the Re-tooling of an Industrial Titan: Chicago

Part 5B: Jobs Training and the search for long-term solutions

Part 3: Job Training Dilemma

Corporate America still sees job training as an expense not an investment. When there is a budget crunch in a company, one of the first functions to be cut is job training. That’s the way it always was. In the latter part of the 20th century, training professionals sought “a seat at the table.” This means that training professionals have been trying to get access to top management by being present at top level decision-making processes. Having a vice presidential post in the top management organizational chart is a move in the right direction. For many years, training has been delivered both synchronously (live sessions) and asynchronously (stored sessions delivered at scheduled times) over the Internet. In fact, primary and secondary education is delivered over the Internet, not only just college-level curricular activities. The training function has been outsourced, at times off-shored, and perhaps even “outlawed” in the spirit of using the on-the-job training option, and using “temps” who need to “hit the ground running.”

The velocity of change has certainly hindered the job training process. The U.S. educational system has had a difficult time keeping up with the types of skills needed in order to determine the appropriate courses or workshops to offer students. The PC revolution of the 1980’s put a computer on every desktop. No longer was the “mainframe” locked up in an air-conditioned room. The Internet revolution has allowed continuous communication around the world. Your customer service call is answered by someone in another country and perhaps from another continent! Many operations within a company are run by project management. Once the defined “project” has been completed, all team members are dispersed to another project. As happens mostly these days, the team members have been hired on as independent consultants, they are not employees of the company, and thus must find another assignment to keep working steadily.

The idea of “work” has evolved from employment at one company until one retires to a series of jobs, perhaps even careers, until one retires.

As an industrial age society, we built our schools to inculcate children with the factory process. Whistles called the people to work, a school bell called students to school. The school bell rang at the end of the school day, factory whistles signaled the end of the work day. Everything was regimented. The school day was divided into several segments of learning. The teacher stood in the front of the room lecturing and the students sat (supposedly very still) listening and hopefully learning. The late 20th century educational system evolved to accommodate more effective learning strategies thanks to the computer and the Internet.

The McKinsey Report (2011) entitled “Internet Matters: The Net’s sweeping impact on growth, jobs, and prosperity” states “The Internet has transformed the way we live, the way we work, the way we socialize and meet, and the ways our countries develop and grow.” This has all happened in about two decades.  That’s only 20 years! Only 20 years.

When we don’t have a continuous policy of job training whether on the national or local level, how can we adjust to change, let alone such rapid change as that caused by technology.  Is it a question of who is responsible for job training of the individual? I think it is. Sometimes help is given from the national level or the regional or local level to the individual worker. This help depends upon whether the worker was part of a large lay-off or did the individual just quit his/her job or was he/she fired. Large lay-offs cause enough economic concern that they make the headlines and perhaps politicos are motivated to “do something.” Whether a worker is coming to the unemployment office from “Humongous & Company” or “Teenie & Son”, the policy and procedure should be the same. Because of budget cuts and other fiscal shenanigans, employment offices get closed, programs get cut. Maybe the programs deserve to be cut because they are no longer relevant to the goal of getting workers back to work. That’s great, fine tune the job training system because it’s been a “response” mechanism instead of an “anticipation” system all its life.

Although we do not have crystal balls to anticipate all the new jobs being created by the rapid advances in technology and Corporate America’s response to these advances by creating new jobs, we have a pretty good idea of the skills needed for white collar jobs and blue collar jobs. Unfortunately older workers have been decimated by the job losses of the last few years. Getting them up to speed quickly enough to perform many of the newer jobs now available is not feasible. Everything has a “learning curve.” Companies want a “contract” employee to hit the ground running even though he/she does not know anything about the company’s informal network. Expectations of performance are extremely high so the idea of an apprentice program makes more sense. Technology and the Internet have compressed “time” so much that a sense of urgency pervades our lives, especially in Business because of instantaneous communication.

Maybe the answer to a “skills-ready” employment force is constant compulsory skills evaluation of all working people. Uh, oh, the work compulsory is a scary word isn’t it! It smells of “there oughta be a law.” Well, how about there “oughta” be a lifelong evaluation process for workers. As jobs and industries start to fade away, workers in these industries can be identified and evaluated for job training elsewhere. Too bad our forefathers could not foresee such a dilemma. Perhaps if our Constitution stated “life, liberty, job training, and the pursuit of happiness,” legislation passed throughout our history might have been more long sighted and better funded.

There are those who want the elimination of the Dept. of Labor (as well as other Federal agencies). The general feeling is that whenever the “government” gets involved things get too expensive and too complicated. That reasoning is true but some structure and oversight is needed to control and guide good intentions to desirable outcomes.

For information on the history of job-related legislation enacted by Congress, see this link.

For Part 1 of this series, see: Jobs, Jobs, Jobs and the Mono-economy of the New Millennium

For Part 2 of this series, see: Past prescriptions to the jobs employment problem

For Part 4 of this series, see: Part 4: Jobs & jobs training, the more things change, the more they stay the same

Part 5A: Jobs and the Re-tooling of an Industrial Titan: Chicago

Part 5B: Jobs Training and the search for long-term solutions

Part 2: Past prescriptions to employment problem

Politicians get elected on the promise of jobs. Budgets get money on the promise of jobs. Cities give tax credits on the promise of jobs. Laws are passed for the “purpose of creating jobs”. So where are the jobs? Here’s a very recent example of a “jobs program”, the Oscar Meyer story in Davenport, Iowa: “…funded in part by a lucrative $15 million incentive package from the State of Iowa and the city of Davenport. The new plant will employ approximately 475 workers— about one-third the number currently employed in Davenport…” Link to story:

I think a look at history may help put things in focus. The United States is not the only nation facing employment dilemmas in the year 2015. We have a short history as a nation compared to our European or Asian counterparts, but our history encompasses the evolution of the meaning of “work,” how the status of the worker has evolved, and the business view of an “able” employee. By “able” I mean a person capable of doing the job as visioned by the employer.

In the 1700’s and 1800’s, apprenticeships were applied for and “paid for” with servitude by the potential learner. The apprentice was indentured to the tradesman for the duration of a contract. Perhaps a son was fortunate enough to be taught his father’s craft. Whether it was tailoring, shoe-making, stone cutting, or carpentry, it was passed down the family generation after generation. In 1937 the U.S. enacted the National Apprenticeship Law. There was a Bureau of Apprenticeship and Training organized in the Dept. of Labor. In 1962 in order to help the disadvantaged, Federal regulation was enacted to ensure nondiscrimination in training and apprenticeships. Outreach programs to the unemployed were implemented under the Manpower Development and Training Act of 1962. Apprenticeship Information Centers were operated by state employment services. Many high schools, vocational schools and technical schools offered preparatory courses for entering an apprenticeship program. According to Apprenticeship Past and Present, (U.S. Dept. of Labor publication), in 1969 there were 250,000 registered apprentices working in the U.S. This was the highest number of apprentices in U.S. history. The average age was between 16 and 24 years of age. The U.S. was deep into the post-Industrial Age and waking up to the fact that people needed training to prepare for changing job economics in 1962.

There is an Office of Apprenticeship in the Dept. of Labor today (year 2015). A directive was written in 2006 entitled Vision for 21st Century Apprenticeship. There are* four websites mentioned in the directive which reference apprentice programs:

*Editor’s note (10/9/2016): two of the website,, and Working, are no longer available for use.

Apprenticeships are one way to help solve the U.S. unemployment situation. What is very extremely disturbing is that individuals may not be ready educationally to enter any job training program. For example, according to the New York Times (Fighting Illiteracy in Chicago, With Enthusiasm, January 14, 2010), Chicago’s illiteracy rate was 53%; the national average was 23%. These are adults who cannot demonstrate basic reading proficiency. So how can these adults qualify for an apprentice program? Obviously they cannot, not without adequate schooling.

…More about Chicago in another posting.

Here’s Part 1 on this series on Jobs.

Here’s Part 3 on this series on Jobs.

Here’s Part 4 on this series on Jobs.

Here’s Part 5A on this series on Jobs.

Here’s Part 5B on this series on Jobs.