The drive to soak taxpayers for even more corporate welfare is behind Scott Walker's latest attempt to "create jobs." While the idea behind job training and a public/private alliance isn't bad, it really isn't a problem of the public sector. It seems business is trying to avoid having skin in the game, like it's too much of a gamble, so they're looking for taxpayer handouts. It wasn't always like this either.
This Cap Times editorial by Dave Zweifel explains:
It’s taken as a given these days that many “good” jobs go unfilled because there’s a huge “skills gap.” Here in Wisconsin, the skills gap is what’s behind the push to financially penalize colleges and tech schools unless they devise curriculum that mesh with the needs of employers. Gov. Scott Walker and others in his party have threatened to base state aid to the schools on how well they meet those needs ... there’s a growing suspicion that many firms are feeding the supposed crisis as a way to get taxpayers to finance the job training of their workforce.
There was a time when employers invested heavily in the training and education of their employees. In manufacturing, much of this was done through union contracts that provided for full-time apprenticeships, jobs in which a new employee would work with a skilled welder, for instance, for a number of years to fully learn the trade. But as the union movement has shrunk, so have the apprenticeship programs. Now the vocational and technical system is expected to pick up the slack.
What’s curious is that while many in the business community are strong advocates of a free marketplace, where … the free market would dictate that the wages for the job ought to rise to attract those skills. “If there is a shortage of something, you would expect the price of that something to increase over time,” Steve Hine, director of labor market information for the state of Minnesota, pointed out. Instead, though, the average hourly wage for a welder grew just $1 between 2005 and 2011. Taking inflation into account, that’s a pay cut.
Professor Peter Cappelli, a professor of management at the acclaimed Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, openly calls that skills gap “a myth.” Cappelli says companies are demanding changes in the education system to make up for their own lack of investment in workforce training and employee development.
Melanie Holmes of the Milwaukee-based Manpower Group placed part of the blame on being “way too picky about who we’re hiring. “We’re not willing to hire somebody who has most of what’s necessary and then invest in training to get them up and running,” she said.
There’s also no question that some employers are using the perception of a “gap” to keep their costs low. And that shouldn’t be.