Reforming Job Development

by Dave Schuler on July 17, 2014

Eric B. Schnurer and Daniela Glick have some reasonable-enough sounding suggestions for reforming our federal jobs development program. Here are the highlights of their proposal:

  1. Create a more flexible, integrated, and comprehensive system.
  2. Integrate workforce-development initiatives into broader efforts to improve the economy.
  3. Focus on demand: what local employers need now and what they expect to need in the future.
  4. Broaden the system’s focus and client base.
  5. Connect education to workforce needs.

I’m pretty sure that institutional inertia will prevent any of those reforms from being implemented. We’ll just keep doing what we’ve been doing. Indeed, Congress is on the cusp of re-authorizing the existing job development program which is expensive, byzantine, a product of another age, and, not to put too fine a point on it, not working.

If you keep doing what you’ve been doing, getting the results you’ve been getting is actually the best case scenario.

Oh, well. I guess re-authorizing the program is better than what we’ve been doing for the last several years which is continuing to budget the old, expired program without re-authorizing it. Baby steps.

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

... July 17, 2014 at 8:39 am

Points ONE and TWO strike me as so much jargon, even when I read their (somewhat more detailed) explanations. I think someone could make a very good PowerPoint presentation out of this.

I like point FOUR: “Broaden the focus”! I think that one needs more generalized details, but maybe that’s just me.

If you keep doing what you’ve been doing, getting the results you’ve been getting is actually the best case scenario.

Leaving aside that this isn’t strictly true (keep drawing to that inside straight draw and you’ll eventually get there – I mean, you’ll likely go broke in the meantime, but you’ll eventually hit it and get that ineffable gambler’s high), I would ask why should we assume the results they’re getting aren’t the results they really want? Politicians are noted, in every human society that has ever had them, for speaking out of both sides of their mouths. If they keep doing the same thing, I can believe that they want the results they’re getting and are lying when they state the opposite, or I can assume they’re completely stupid and think that doing the same thing over and over expecting different results is the best option available.

Having been reading about Surrey recently, I’ll evoke Occam’s Razor and state that the first option seems more likely. ESPECIALLY since the only people that really matter, the donors, keep giving them money to do this over and over again. Or should I assume that everyone running the society, all those rich successful people, are all completely stupid but incredibly lucky?

... July 17, 2014 at 9:28 am

Read their entire article. It almost demands a line-by-line commentary, of the Talmudic scholarly-type.

But highlighting a couple of things will do, and allow me to get my daughter to a park before the rains roll in.

Workforce development is vital to our nation’s future as global competition rises. Within the decade, roughly two-thirds of all jobs will require postsecondary education and training.

Okay, great. But we can look at immigration laws (as written, as proposed, and especially as practiced) to see how our leaders are responding to that need for a highly educated workforce: We’re importing tens of millions of peasants from the Third World, whose skills are generally poor by the standards of their own societies, much less our own, especially given the language barrier. And we’re granting as many H-1B visas as we can, and the billionaires are insisting that we need even more. Because we have a shortage of STEM workers, as evidenced by the fact that American corporations are always laying off more STEM workers. (See Microsoft for the latest well-known case, but they’re hardly along.)

So, more peasants without skills and an inability to speak the language, coupled with a smattering of people from Bangalore or the hinterlands of China to help displace Americans that DO have STEM knowledge and capabilities.

So any change done to the WIA programs (now more than 25 years old) will be rendered completely useless by an immigration policy now just shy of 50 years old, and getting worse by the day, both by proposal and by reality.

But I note that they propose lots of programs get redesigned, consolidated, initiated, studied, examined and cogitated upon. That sounds like a lot of work to be done, which will take time, of course. And given the realities of how government functions, it means more money going to government workers – and those the government brings in to help with the work.

I wonder who stands to gain from all that?

Eric B. Schnurer is president of, and Daniela Glick is a senior analyst with, Public Works LLC, a consulting firm advising governments on a range of public-policy issues. They have worked with administrations in a dozen states on workforce-development reforms.

Which answers the question of why these two are proposing these ideas. Just another scam by more con-artists looking to cash in at the expense of the public.

TastyBits July 17, 2014 at 9:47 am

This presupposes US employers want US employees. I was surprised @Icepick did not make this point.

The number one jobs program would be to get the economy moving, and employers will begin hiring. When employees are scarce, skill sets become less important. Employers are willing to do on the job training.

The government is always going to be lagging where the market needs are. This is due to the inability to forecast trends, but also, any changes would mean unemployment for some of the workers. The federal jobs development program is a jobs program for its workers.

The problem with all these programs is that there is no feedback mechanisms, and most of the incentives do not work as planned (see VA bonuses). For a program to work, there needs to be feedback loops and incentives. I would set up something using the FDIC as a model.

A job bank with a job training program funded by employers voluntarily taking part. It would be administered by the feds, but the employers would have an audit board or mechanism. The government could act as a temp agency, supplement pay, provide medical, etc. for 6 mos or a year.

The parts may need to be rearranged or changed, but the concept is to give the employers an incentive to use these employees. They will fund the program, and it will be voluntary. Their input will control the direction of the program. The employers and the government each have veto power over what they fund.

(The temp agency allows the employer to “try it before you buy it”. It cuts down on the initial paperwork. It would give the hire some experience.)

... July 17, 2014 at 9:52 am

This presupposes US employers want US employees. I was surprised @Icepick did not make this point.

I thought it was implicit, but I’m angry and in a hurry, so I probably goofed up the exposition.

Shorter version of the linked piece and my second comment:

Schnurer & Glick (the authors of the piece) want a federal jobs program to help their company.

steve July 17, 2014 at 12:31 pm

Their points seem sufficiently broad and vague it is hard to disagree. Need some specifics.


Ben Wolf July 17, 2014 at 5:20 pm

Ten dogs can go out to find bones, but if there are only six then four dogs go hungry. In response to this the governmemt of Mastadoria decides the problem is the four dogs have bad bone-finding skills and maybe even poor attitudes about work, so it creates a special training program to teach them how to do a better job. They spend weeks honing their skills and then, one day, they go out and all four find bones!

It looks like the problem is solved until the other dogs return and only two found bones, because while ten dogs are looking there are still only six bones to be found. The special training didn’t decrease the number of boneless dogs, it just shuffled the ones who got bones and the ones that didn’t.

While training is important it can’t replace the lack of demand which creates the jobs; calling for reform of federal training is just more of the same thinking we’ve embraced since the Great Society, it didn’t work then and won’t work now.

... July 17, 2014 at 5:29 pm

I’ll note the people telling me how wonderful the immigrants from the Third World on the other thread aren’t over here mentioning how those immigrants are going to develpo the skills needed for the economy of tomorrow.

Nor are they, per Ben Wolf, telling me how adding ten dogs to go after six bones is going to do anything to reduce the number of hungry dogs in the pack.

Guarneri July 17, 2014 at 6:43 pm

Next week on “How To Do It” our guests will tell us how the cure the world of all known diseases…………

Guarneri July 17, 2014 at 6:50 pm
... July 17, 2014 at 7:18 pm

Drew, the Obama Administration & Bush Administration & several Congresses have helped people like you out. That massive money pump hit the stock market pretty well. They’ve done close to nothing for people that need help, other than occasionally extend unemployment compensation, which wasn’t much in the face of this employment crisis. And they haven’t even tried, is the shameful thing.

Now I know you think poor & working people in this country should be grateful our betters just don’t have us shot, but can you honestly say that this government (by which I mean multiple Administrations and Congresses at this point) has done anything at all about the economy? They’re not even making meaningful proposals, neither side.

So this bit from some consultants who make their nut by telling government how to reorganize itself recommending that the government reorganize itself, while mostly referencing nothing but platitudes, doesn’t fucking cut it.

jan July 18, 2014 at 12:35 pm

Great Monty Python advice, Drew! I only wish all ‘fixes’ could be achieved as quickly, simply and succinctly as was shown on that clip.

TastyBits July 18, 2014 at 1:46 pm

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