Workplace Education for Low-Wage Workers

Workplace Education for Low-Wage Workers

Workplace Education for Low-Wage Workers

Workplace Education for Low-Wage Workers

Synopsis

This study examins a catagory of education and training that is not frequently put under the magnifying glass: employers practices and decision-making processes with regard to workplace education and training for lower-wage workers. It is hoped that the results of the study will both inform public policy and be of use to employers interested in enhancing the education and training that they provide to lower-wage workers.

Excerpt

The world economy is in the midst of a titanic shift. In comparison with their evolution from an agrarian to an industrial base, the world’s now-developed economies have shifted from an industrial to a knowledge base with unprecedented speed. Nowhere is this more evident than in the United States. The remarkable flexibility exhibited by the U.S. economy has fueled its domination of the technology revolution, and has enabled that revolution to occur without catastrophic economic disruption. However, change of such magnitude and speed as the U.S. economy has recently undergone always produces some disruption.

Frequently, economic disruption takes the form of high unemployment. The U.S. economy, however, has experienced just the opposite. Although the United States is in the midst of a slowdown as this book goes to press, nonetheless its unemployment rates in recent years have been low by the standards of the past few decades.

This time, the expected disruption has come, instead, in the form of a slow but fairly steady decline in the inflation-adjusted wages of much of the workforce. Because of the extraordinary flexibility of the U.S. economy, these wage reductions have not reduced the standard of living for most households; families have supplemented falling wages by working longer hours and, in many cases, by adding a second wage earner.

Nevertheless, the decline in wages—particularly stark for those workers with the least formal education—is worrisome. The resultant increase in income inequality is the subject of inquiry and concern by both scholars and politicians. Increasingly, education is viewed as both the problem and the solution.

This study touches on these broader issues by examining a category of education and training that is not frequently put under the magnifying glass: employers’ practices and decision-making processes with regard to workplace education and training for lower-wage workers. It is our hope that the results of the study will both inform public . . .

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