Low-Skill Workers, Technology, and Education: A New Vision for Workforce Development Policy

By Gatta, Mary | The Economic and Labour Relations Review : ELRR, November 2008 | Go to article overview

Low-Skill Workers, Technology, and Education: A New Vision for Workforce Development Policy


Gatta, Mary, The Economic and Labour Relations Review : ELRR


Introduction

At no time in American history is the possession of skills and education so necessary for individuals' economic self-sufficiency and the country's national competitiveness. For many adults, even those with the least education and work experience, locating an entry-level job is relatively easy. But simply having a job is often not enough: the real challenge lies in securing employment that offers economic self-sufficiency. Unfortunately many workers are falling short of that goal. Today some nine million working families are trying to survive in the United States in jobs that rarely offer them a living wage, let alone health benefits, pensions, or a career ladder.

The challenge of providing education and skills training is certainly great. Forty-six per cent of American adults possess literacy skills that are the minimum standard for labour market success (Kutner et al 2006). These individuals face a future of high unemployment and low-skill, low-paid work. Research is clear that education and targeted skills training helps to increase one's economic self-sufficiency (Bartik 2001; Gatta 2005); yet the challenge of reaching all those who need to upgrade their skills, given insufficient federal funding and resources, is daunting. It is estimated that only 10 to 20 per cent of the 37 million adults who need basic education, skills training, and/or English language training are enrolled in federal or state supported programs at any given time (McCain 2003).

The low participation of working adults in publicly supported programs can be attributed, in part, to an antiquated training system that is designed for an industrial economy that no longer exists. Such a system contributes to the continued unequal access to education that characterises workforce development policy and programs. Under this system the vast majority of education and training is classroom-based and logistical issues for working adults--transportation, child care, locally available classes, conflicting work schedules--prevent many from taking advantage of what exists. In addition, federal welfare and workforce policy's focus on job placement and emphasis on short-term training preclude many low-wage workers from access to education and lifelong skills development to succeed. In what is colloquially referred to as 'work-first' policy, individuals are forced by policy regulations to secure any job, regardless of pay, opportunities for advancement, or benefits packages in order to qualify for many public supports. As a result education and training seem to be an afterthought within the national workforce discourse. Most notably, in the Workforce Investment Act (WIA)--the nation's premier employment and training policy--individuals must pass through a sequence of services before they are able to qualify for education or training. This policy design has the effect of serving as a barrier to skills training for many working adults. Congressional testimony by advocates at Wider Opportunities for Women (2003) graphically illustrates at this point:

   Consider the example of a Vermont woman who sought the help of the
   One-Stop Center (1) after a long history of employment as a
   housekeeper. Recently divorced and unable to support her family on
   her housekeeper wages, she wanted to participate in a skilled
   trades training program to improve her earnings potential. She was
   turned away because she had success in the housekeeping field and
   therefore was not eligible to participate in the training program,
   which she was told, was for people with no skills and with a long
   history of unemployment (p. 5).

The need to pass through a series of steps to attain training, along with her ability to secure an entry-level job, prevented this woman from receiving any skills upgrading. The sequence of services includes a three-tiered system of core, intensive, and training services. Core services--the most basic form--include informational resources, self services, job search, and job research assistance. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Low-Skill Workers, Technology, and Education: A New Vision for Workforce Development Policy
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.