Opinion Column: Blaming Workers for Skills Gap Rather than Policy

Last week Donald Trump visited a technical college in Wisconsin. He was accompanied by Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, several members of Congress, and top officials in his administration. The theme was promoting apprenticeship programs that give workers job specific skills. Trump, along with the rest of his contingent, bemoaned the fact that employers cannot find workers with the skills they need. This theme was picked up by many in the media, including many who are not Republicans, who argued that workers in the U.S. are not getting ahead because they lack the necessary skills.

The striking feature about this argument is how widely it gets repeated, even when the evidence continually shows that it is not true. Just to be clear, it is good that U.S. workers get better training. Other countries, most notably Germany and the Nordic countries, do a much better job of training workers who do not get college degrees than the United States.

It is also true that any individual worker will almost certainly be better off in the labor market if they could acquire more skills. Certainly the best advice to a young person completing high school would be to try to go to college or alternatively to get the training needed to be a physical therapist, dental hygienist, or some other moderately well-paying professional. Insofar as the government can facilitate this education and training it will be good for both the workers and the economy as a whole.

But that is very different from claiming that the main reason that millions of workers are unemployed or out of the labor force is that they don’t have the right skills. This claim is endlessly put forward, in both the United States and elsewhere, even in contexts where it is obviously not true.

Click here to read the entire opinion column by Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, published on The Hankyoreh website.

About Timmothy Boettcher

Business Career Originally recruited in 1998 as a software engineer to design and develop cutting edge technology for new products, Mr. Boettcher assumed leadership for Research and Development and then Engineering before being named President of Realityworks in 2005. Responsible for total operations, he has driven significant understanding of market opportunities, gatekeepers, and funding in education, healthcare, and public service markets; bolstered production and supply chain efficiencies; acquired and launched new age technology; rebuilt leadership competencies; led growth into the Company’s over 65% US school system and over 90 country presence; and led the implementation of the Company’s ESOP to build on the societal mission of the Company and further the family oriented culture to reward employees for their success in achieving the mission and efforts to drive growth. Focused on high market growth, he has led the Company’s turnaround and achieved double-digit top line growth simultaneously with dramatic profit and cash flow improvement. Mr. Boettcher brings more than twenty years of engineering, product development, and global operations experience in education, advanced technology, manufacturing, and distribution industries. Prior to joining Realityworks, he held positions at Cray Research, a leading manufacturer of the world’s fastest supercomputers and Wal-Mart Distribution, the world’s leader in distribution and logistics. Professional & Community Activities Mr. Boettcher is passionate about building effective connections between our countries workforce development system, economic development programs, and education infrastructure. A solid connection between these systems is needed to ensure our youth and workforce are prepared to be global competitive and ready to take on the challenges and needs faced by industry. In delivering on this passion Mr. Boettcher: - has presented workforce development strategies on the national level for Harvard’s Pathway’s to Prosperity, U.S. Department of Labor, and at many Career and Technical Education events. - established and currently chairs the Industry Workforce Needs Council (IWNC), a national level group of industry leaders that works directly with education to increase support for Career and Technical Education in the country in alignment with industry needs. - served on the Board of Directors for the Association for Career and Technical Education. - chaired the Western Wisconsin Workforce Development Board (Chair) to help establish and lead regional workforce development initiatives. - established and led the Innovation Foundation of Western Wisconsin (Chair) to help bring critical C-level talent to start-ups and small to mid-sized companies to help them grow. - served on the Board for the Eau Claire Economic Development Corporation (President). - and provides guidance to institutions like the International Business Programs Advisory Council of the University of Wisconsin (Eau Claire). Mr. Boettcher also holds seven U.S. and foreign patents.

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