In the shadow of a newly released jobs report showing continued anemic employment growth in the U.S. in August, economists gathered at an AEI event Friday morning to discuss one method of attacking rampant unemployment — job training. As Harry Holzer of Georgetown University described, training programs could potentially give unemployed workers better skills and could provide employers with more encouragement to hire those workers.
However, as Betsey Stevenson of the University of Michigan pointed out, the current system of job training is uncoordinated and fragmented at both the federal and state levels, making analysis of the system incredibly difficult. Jeffrey Smith of the University of Michigan then emphasized how few metrics exist to evaluate the performance of job training programs, and how poorly organized the existing data is. Panelists agreed that job training holds an important role in the labor market, but argued that it requires expanded metrics and more accurate analysis to pinpoint how it can best be organized and implemented in the U.S.
With unemployment and long-term joblessness at stubbornly high levels, many Americans look to job training as a way to reinvigorate the work force. The federal government currently supports over 40 different programs that provide job training and spends billions of dollars annually training and matching unemployed workers with jobs.
How effective are these training programs, and what are the best ways to organize them? What do we currently know about these programs’ performance, and how can we improve the way they are assessed and evaluated? This conference will feature three panels focused on publicly funded job training programs, their performance in the U.S. and possible reform ideas.