Big Smoke

'cause it's hard to see from where I'm standin'

Job Re-training


As I personally decide on whether to spend a pile of money to train as a health care technician on the suggestion of the Wall Street Journal in its series of articles on Electronic Health Records, I’ve come across an article on job training that argues that, on a macro level, a national job retraining program will not solve an economic crisis, since the problem is across the board.

“But retraining will not help with what economists call “cyclical” unemployment—the joblessness caused by an economy-wide lack of demand. And that’s the kind of unemployment that we have right now. Retraining might change who gets a job, but it does not change how many jobs there are.”

But it got me thinking about these Good Jobs™ that are only a training program away. According to Emily DeRocco, president of the Manufacturing Institute, “Unfortunately, these jobs require the most training and are traditionally among the hardest manufacturing jobs to find existing talent to fill.” In other words, they’ve always been under-filled, despite our colleges pumping out trained professionals all the time.


I suspect because these employers have been throwing out the sorts of jobs I’ve been seeing in my job hunt of late. If I may paraphrase:

“We want you to have ten years’ experience in this very specific sub-field that we may or may not have invented six months ago. You will have a generalist’s responsibility at this job, despite its requirements, there is no job security, and you will be paid a wage only interns usually see.”

If these positions are so hard to fill, why aren’t the employers paying for the training? Why aren’t they paying the sorts of incomes that would prompt entrepreneurial go-getters to tailor their resumes for them? It’s with this question that I must bring pause to my consideration to spend over a grand to train for a specific position without any guarantee of employment in that position. After all, I’m already 80% there. I’m already certified IT with history in database work. Why wouldn’t these hospitals teach me how to do their medical records?

I’m kvetching, of course, but it just seems silly to put the cost of training on the person least capable of paying for it, and even if the federal government were to offer training (on anything more than the lowest level of pink-collar jobs, as it is now) why is the burden on the government? It seems like, if the government is going to pay for this, they should pay for it by taxing the businesses that directly benefit – maybe even twice what the training’s worth, just to press home the point that businesses should be doing this themselves. Hell, there’s a precedent: San Francisco pays for universal health coverage for workers by taxing local businesses.

And if anybody cares to say that I’m acting entitled, remember that the private sector are the kinds of folks who seem to feed off catch-22s like where they won’t hire people because they’re unemployed or have a bad credit history (because they’re unemployed). As I’ve said before, being loyal to a system that isn’t loyal to you is more than a little masochistic.

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