Monday, January 7, 2013

The Imaginary Skills Gap

is getting so much play that Tony Evers even put out a press release today regarding it:

 The 2013-15 education budget proposal calls for the Department of Public Instruction to work with the state Department of Workforce Development and Wisconsin Technical College System (WTCS) to identify occupations with potential skilled worker shortages. The proposed budget would provide school districts with $1,000 for each student who graduated from high school with an industry-recognized credential for a high-need occupation. Accounting for students earning industry certificates would become part of the college and career readiness data point for School Report Cards

The problem with "potential skilled worker shortage" is that it just is not real. As Paul Krugman points out, and what everyone who has taken econ 101 knows, that the problem is not skills its pay and training:

If the righties were truly in favor of the free market, then free market principles would tell them that if they have a hard time filling specialist positions, then the company would have to raise the pay and work on an internal training program to meet their needs exactly.

Logic dictates that if you can not fill a job at $8/hr, there is a pay rate where you can start filling those jobs.   The problem that we have to overcome is the anti-business republican minority, led by our own Governor, who thinks certainty is part of the free market

 UGH  we have alot of work to do!   


  1. Ugh is right.

    Never thought much of Evers. This is the guy who devalued college training teacher certification by giving "real life experience" as credit toward teacher certification....Same problem. THERE IS NO TEACHER SHORTAGE, so why would you resort to these methods?

  2. There seems to be a disconnect between the business community's constant whining about a skilled-labor shortage while it pushes policies that cut funds for public schools, technical colleges and the university system, all while reducing teacher salaries and making them the scapegoats for the deliberate institutional failure set in motion by right-wing school boards and an extremist led state legislature. These corporate moochers claim to want better schools and highly-trained workers but don't want to pay for them.

    Perhaps they want to follow the Louisiana example and import guest-worker teachers from overseas. It is a lucrative business after all and the absolute control over these teacher/slaves would appeal to any Libertarian.

  3. The centrally-planned command economy!

    Brought to you by... Scott Walker!

    Well, I guess Nixon had to go to China (and so did Walker).

  4. "If the righties were truly in favor of the free market, then free market principles would tell them that if they have a hard time filling specialist positions, then the company would have to raise the pay . . ."


    Reminds me of a recent discussion I had with a conservative relative who is in real estate. She was bemoaning the difficulty they, working with the lenders, were having trouble finding "qualified" buyers for foreclosed properties.

    Qualified? Huh??

    I asked her to explain why, if she and her ilk were so worshipful of the almighty marketplace, why didn't they simply reduce the prices on their stagnant properties until the buyers came to them. Her response was some mumbo jumbo about a similarity to "minimum bids" in "auction situations," a need to "realize a rate of return on tied up capital," etc., ad nauseum.

    The almighty "Free Market" is just jim dandy when it works in the right's favor; not so much when it works against their interests.

  5. 60 Minutes ran a piece a couple months ago about this with lots of air time from fols from the business community decrying the "skills gap"...they, at least, provide some counterpoint from an analyst who mentions the new business trend of trying to make training somebody else's problem and reframing the situation as a "low wage problem" instead of a skills gap. 60 Minutes misses the boat rather majorly, IMHO, closing the piece by noting the two trainees they spotlight both landed jobs at $12 dollars an hour, with an implied framing that this is "success," yet failing to note that the $24,960 annual salary of these $12/hour jobs put one worker's family of four just above, and the other worker's family of five below the poverty line. Here's the 60 Minutes segment -