Alright, thanks to Benton and Christine I was able to find that damnable dept of labor report looking at the effectiveness of the "Adults" and "Displaced Worker" programs of the Workforce Investment Act. A study cited by the nytimes article I commented on the other day. The basic conclusion of the report, looking at the Displaced Worker retraining programs do indeed show little to no positive gain, in aggregate, although there are differences in effectiveness among states.
What annoys me about the article though is that it looks at job retraining programs within a vaccuum and assumes that policymakers advance jobs retraining as the only option, especially without "job creation" legislation. It's a ridiculous and inaccurate notion, especially considering that the article uses the stimulus package additional funding for job retraining as a line of attack against retraining programs. The entire goal of the stimulus package is to help create jobs.
But my main beef with the article and, to a lesser extent, the authors of the study is that I don't think they're necessarily addressing the right issue. Yes we should get an idea of whether job retraining programs are working especially for displaced workers, who are generally older, better educated and white, in other words, middle class. And, by definition, displaced workers permanently lose their old jobs. That's an entire sub-section of work that no longer exists. So, the question is modified when looking at retraining effectiveness. The question is now modified when looking at these class of workers. The first conccern is getting displaced workers back into work. The second concern is in getting these workers back into a job that was the equivalent of their former job. So getting folk a good job. The study, and the article, don't address that question at all. And honestly, it's one of the ass backwards aspects of labor policy. Due to the loss of a huge chunk of our manufacturing sector, a good portion of the population that was making good money no longer is and there are not many jobs available to replace those jobs.
It is not just the fact that displaced workers are losing jobs, it's the fact that even with retraining tere aren't enough jobs, especially in the current recession, that could adequately absorb these people with their experience and training, anyway. The result? People either leave training early, get any old job they can regardless of how much it pays, or they wait. It's the combination permanently losing jobs and a lack of jobs being created that dampen much of the potential effectiveness of training.
The article is very right about one thing, though. Training can't work without job creation. It's for that reason we need to get to work on a national industry plan, increased stimules spending, and trying to work on properly placeing and educating people into positions that are available and make good money.