Monday, July 06, 2009

News Flash: Job "Re-Training" Doesn't Work

It's a beautiful egalitarian concept: Job re-training. Helping those poor folks who have been "downsized", laid off, fired, terminated, let go, etc. train for other more lucrative careers. Too bad it doesn't work, or to put it diplomatically as the New York Times did, it "falls short of high hopes":

CLINTON TOWNSHIP, Mich. — For the second time in three years, Mike Hutchins, a laid-off automotive engineer, is preparing to enroll in job retraining at a local community college, this time to become a civil engineering technician. But he has no idea if he has chosen the right path.

“I’m fumbling around in the dark,” said Mr. Hutchins, 58.

The industry where Mr. Hutchins worked for 25 years has shriveled. The courses in computer-aided design that he finished last year in his initial effort at retraining failed to lead to employment. “I’m looking for a job that will give me some type of a future,” he said.

Tens of thousands of laid-off workers like Mr. Hutchins have turned to retraining as a lifeline. Yet for all the popularity of these government-financed programs, there are questions about whether they actually work, even asPresident Obama’s stimulus plan directs $1.4 billion more to retraining and other services for people who have lost their jobs.

While you have to kind of sympathize with this guy on the one hand, you can't help but think "buck up, buddy! Don't wait for the government to "train" you or pay to have you trained, get out there and do something -- be productive for God's sake!"

We're throwing away $1.4 billion on this job training BS -- yes that's exactly what it is, BS. Since when is it the government's business to "re-train" unemployed people in new careers? This guy is an engineer and he's looking to the government for training? The only thing you should be guaranteed in our great society is life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The rest is up to you. What this means is it's up to you to do what you have to do to make it in the world. If you get laid off, find something else. If unemployment is in double digits in your area, move somewhere where you can get a job -- apply for jobs around the country via the Internet. If you don't want to move, face the fact that you may have to subsist on a substandard job with a substandard salary. The choice is up to you. But if you are looking to the government for anything, you're making a huge mistake.

We've all been there before. I've worked at everything from a crew person in a fast food restaurant to a production worker in a soup plant to a North Slope oil exploration worker to a journalist to a restaurant general manager to a mid-level corporate manager everywhere from Alaska to Texas to Iowa. I've "re-trained" myself by working two jobs to work my way through college as an adult student. And don't think I'm breaking my arm patting myself on the back. My story is no different than the stories of millions of other Americans and far less arduous than millions of others. We're Americans: We're tough; we pull ourselves up by our bootstraps and realize that we can do anything we want to and we don't need to look to the government for "job training".

Maybe some of you have some experience with "job training". I have a little from the perspective of an employer and as an Iowan, as a witness to a multi-million dollar "job training" scam where huge salaries and bonuses were paid to bureaucrats from "grants" that were supposed to go to train people to be employable. In this case, the main "training" consisted of a weekly job fair that hooked lower-skilled unemployed folks up with temporary services that had jobs for them -- something they could have done themselves by simply turning to the "Temporary Agency" section of the yellow pages and giving them a call. And this is just Iowa. The fraud committed in "job training" scams in huge metropolises like The Messiah's stomping grounds are legendary and you can't tell me The Messiah doesn't know this. After all he worked for ACORN, a big recipient of "job training" money.

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