BOSTON (TheStreet) -- Grappling with unbudging unemployment rates, is there anything either Congress or the Obama administration can do to put people back to work?While critics continue to debate the effectiveness, or lack thereof, of economic stimulus spending, a team of researchers at The University of California at San Diego has a few suggestions they say could put people back to work, and with better jobs to boot.
|A study by faculty at the University of California at San Diego has become the book Closing America's Job Gap.|
Congress should support innovative start-up companies that create jobs and provide incentives for retraining people to be qualified for new technologies. Bottom up, not top down
Rather than federal top-down strategies for job creation, the authors promote a bottom-up approach. The government should invest regionally in the kinds of collaborations "that are already producing good jobs in high tech, biotech and clean tech, for which specialized training may be needed." Invest in the skilled trades
The U.S. is not investing as much money and time in technical skills development as other nations, the book claims. Shortages of skilled workers -- electricians, carpenters, plumbers and welders -- are acute in many of the world's biggest economies, including the United States and Canada, where employers ranked skilled trades as their No. 1 or No. 2 hiring challenge, according to the Manpower ( MAN) agency's 2010 Talent Shortage Survey. Time for an upgrade
Congress can help American employers invest in upgrading their workers' skills at the levels most European and Asian employers do. U.S. companies have fallen to eighth place for investments in training and employee development, as ranked by the World Economic Forum, according to the authors.
Investment in employee training is rising, but could use a boost, the study concludes. Employers recognize that they need a highly skilled work force to remain competitive, and the government should provide incentives to make that happen. Tax incentives for time off for continuing education
A roadblock to "re-skilling" is that many employees find it difficult to pursue continuing education while balancing work and family obligations. "Employers should offer flexible, convenient educational options to help increase participation," the writers suggest. "Tax incentives for doing so would go a long way." Support regional business clusters
Regions should be thinking about industry clusters that can "harness their assets to grow innovative new enterprises." Taking the cue, 26 of 31 European Union countries have cluster initiative programs, as do Japan and Korea, but "the U.S. needs cluster strategies that include provisions for work force development." "There are certain regions that in history have naturally attracted businesses. Birds of a feather have flocked together," DeVries says. "Think Hollywood and the film industry, Ohio and the tire industry, Detroit and the automobile industry. In San Diego it is the life science industry. Those things have naturally occurred over the years, but we can, and need, to do more to encourage them." Assemble the right team
Federal programs should maximize the resources provided for regional collaboration, bringing together the four key players in economic growth: the research community; entrepreneurs and investors; economic development associations; and educators and work force training organizations. Help adults, not just kids
Congress should include adult learners in their education plans, not just undergraduates and graduate students. "Many members of Congress believe that an undergraduate or advanced degree will provide the knowledge and skills sufficient for a professional career spanning several decades," the authors say. "In today's world that is no longer true. Expanding on-the-job training and lifelong learning options are critical." Think globally
Congress can stimulate training programs to give American workers a clear sense of the effects globalization and new technology have on all industries and what they must do to be competitive. -- Written by Joe Mont in Boston. >To contact the writer of this article, click here: Joe Mont. >To follow the writer on Twitter, go to http://twitter.com/josephmont. >To submit a news tip, send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.