More on the Things I’ve Been Following

1. I push my radical “Let’s train people for the open jobs” agenda at Pith.

2. I understand Paterno’s “I did nothing wrong” strategy, almost. But it strains credulity that Paterno would have had an assistant and that assistant’s father show up to his house on a Saturday, report that Sandusky was doing “something” with a boy in a shower that Paterno felt he had to pass up the chain of command, and Paterno claim he had no idea it was something sexual, something he himself might report to the police. Grown ass men don’t need their dads with them to tell you that they saw a man holding hands with a kid in a way he found a little creepy, you know? But if Paterno’s not telling the truth, why would he risk pissing off McQueary and his father?  If McQueary’s father says “Yes, we told him Sandusky was fucking a child” that will be bad enough. If either McQueary or his father follows that up with “and I was told that the assistant’s job was a reward for keeping quiet and that the repercussions if we didn’t would be x, y, and z,” then Paterno can kiss his legacy good-bye, if he can’t already.

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8 thoughts on “More on the Things I’ve Been Following

  1. As an employer, I see a lot of waste and frustration with government funded job training programs. Usually, they are not agile enough to keep up with the market needs and end up being a racket that is taken advantage of by profitieers in the education sphere. In addition, there is a large amout of inefficient overlap from the multpile agencies (state, local, federal, different departments, etc.) that offer classes and traning services.

    It is great to say “let’s invest in job-training for the unemployed” as it is a great sound byte, but I think the better method is what you mention – provide some economic support through grants/loans/whatever, thereby creating the demand and allowing the marketplace to provide supply. Definitely not the other way around. Pell grant is a great example.

    Most importantly, many employers worth their salt provide an on-ramp to potential employees through on-the-job training. If you can grow but need better human resources, you create those through tailored training that specifically fits your needs.

  2. Yeah, I’m not business-savvy enough to know quite how it would work but it would clearly have to meet a few challenges:

    a.) It shouldn’t be up to the government to decide which jobs people need to be prepared for. Just using Ramsey as an example, politicians are too easily lead by what they hear is going on and not what actually is the case on the ground. I mean, I am assuming there is actually a need for truck drivers and HVAC people, because I’ve heard so from various sources, but what if that’s just who’s complaining but we actually need 1,000 vet techs? We should be supporting training to meet employers’ needs.

    b.) In order to make this work, there needs to be some kind of guarantee to both the employer and the unemployed person. If it takes, say, 6 months of intensive training to get certified or if you need so many hours of road time or whatever, you might not be able to work (or maybe not full-time) while you’re doing that. So, there needs to be some incentive for the employer to meet you today and like you and hold a position open for you until you can get the training. The flip side of that is, of course, that you need to know that, if you invest the training, there’s a job. We really, really don’t need a bunch of people who are out of work who went and got trained to become HVAC repair people, but the state only needed 500 of them and 1500 now have the debt of that training and still no job prospects. I don’t know what those incentives would look like, but I trust the business community could tell us.

    c.) and this would not be a student-loan situation. People can already get student loans. Somehow we need to make sure that this is “I need a welder. A welder needs to meet these qualifications. Betsy would make a great welder and I want to hire her, but she’s not worked in a year, so the money to get her trained and up to speed can’t come from her, at least not immediately.” It’s great, for instance, if a bunch of people want to go to school to learn how to make solar panels, as they are doing in Clarksville. That makes the Clarksville area very attractive to business who make solar panels–there’s a trained workforce. But I’m arguing for something different–not training a workforce for “the jobs of the future.” Student loans can take care of that. But retraining a worker for an existing job.

    I think this would work even better for employers who do provide some level of on the job training. Someone who could start work immediately and be getting on the job training while getting the schooling and paperwork stuff out of the way at night would be ideal.

  3. Aunt B.,

    Cracker’s point is spot on. When Tennessee started on welfare reform in the mid-90s we surveyed lots of employers and the overwhelming consensus was that they were more interested in potential employees have ‘work skills’ like showing up on time, listening to directions, working well with others etc, rather than specific training in various equipment. The reason involves employers wanting to train workers in their way on equipment but needing workers who can function well in training and on the job.

    Another good thing about the state focusing its training on work skills is that it doesn’t tie future employees into specific industries but makes them ready for a range of potential jobs.

    As for the Penn State mess, you wrote: “…Paterno felt he had to pass up the chain of command,”

    In Happy Valley Paterno IS the chain of command. If he had wanted an investigation, it would have happened. If Paterno didn’t want an investigation, it would not happen.

  4. Yes, but Mark, you make the same mistake Ramsey seems to be making. This isn’t the mid-90s. People who are unemployed are not unemployed because they lack work skills. They’re unemployed because there aren’t enough jobs to go around. They have solid work skills. They need qualifications.

  5. Aunt B., thanks. I did not mean to imply that job skills would solve everything. We do have a far different problem from the 90s.

    The keys to more jobs are sending less skilled jobs abroad and greater exports. The ‘free trade solves everything’ argument has been debunked.

  6. One other item that I considered adding to my first post but chose not to was our biggest hiring block in the south: exactly what Mark Rogers pointed out.

    Basic math skills (high school level) and ability to meet requirements like showing up on time, etc. just aren’t as common as you’d think. But, oddly enough, we have no problem finding that in other countries . . .

  7. Holy cow. I’ve been prepping for and appearing at a hearing for the last few days, and I completely missed the Paterno story.

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