Job Training Partnership Program: Step Towards the Right Direction?

Catherine Rampell of The New York Times reported over the weekend:

As part of efforts to address record-high levels of long-term unemployment, President Obama plans to announce a new national public-private partnership on Monday to help retrain workers for jobs that are in demand.

The national program is a response to frustrations from both workers and employers who complain that public retraining programs frequently do not provide students with employable skills. This new initiative is intended to help better align community college curriculums with the demands of local companies.

“The goal is to encourage community colleges and other training providers to work in close partnership with employers, to design a curriculum where they want to hire the people coming out of these programs right away,” said Austan Goolsbee, chairman of the President’s Council of Economic Advisers.

Although some have come out to argue that this entire effort is misguided, and that instead of focusing on training a more qualified workforce, we should be focusing our efforts at encouraging both public and private sectors to hire more workers. I don’t think that line of logic is 100% accurate, especially if we are looking at the long-term.

This is true–during our current unemployment crisis, there are five unemployed workers per job opening. However, our economy is also on the verge of a skill shortage. According to the Britannica Blog:

Thirty-two percent of U.S. manufacturers report a skill shortage in the midst of this great recession. How will our high-tech economy cope once expansion begins again? The talent pipelines are broken. Younger people have long spurned science, technology, engineering and math-related (STEM) jobs. America’s businesses have chronically underinvested in training their own workers, or helping support higher quality science/math education programs in their communities to better prepare youth for careers in a high-tech world economy.

With that being said, I think it is definitely a step in the right direction if the training program proposed by the White House would help train and encourage more community college students to go into STEM fields.

However, whether that is the case is unclear. More information is definitely required.