Your Views: Are problem schools, workers really at root of Wisconsin's jobs issue?

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Friday, March 21, 2014

Failing schools and dumb workers have been cited by the Walker administration as the factors responsible for weak job creation. Walker’s policymakers claim that a “skills gap,” a shortage of trained workers, has resulted in thousands of jobs going unfilled in Wisconsin.

Apparently we are to believe that Wisconsin’s labor force skills eroded and workers became “unqualified” upon Walker becoming governor. Seventy percent of the projected Wisconsin job openings through 2020 require a high school education or less. Wisconsin actually has too many highly educated workers for too few “skilled jobs.”

It is a myth that jobs are going unfilled. Even if every unemployed person were trained for existing Wisconsin jobs, two-thirds would still be out of work! Walker’s tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy, Act 10’s gutting public schools and public-employee pay ($1 billion lost in take-home pay), coupled with forced austerity for the working and middle class, have hammered family budgets, lowering consumer spending and demand that leads to job creation.

Promoting policies in response to an “imaginary skills gap” is poor economic policy and will not bring jobs to Wisconsin. The time has long passed for the governor, Legislature and media to dismiss the myth that an expanded pool of trained workers will lead employers to create more jobs. A “fake” skills gap will do little to improve the jobs problem in Wisconsin.



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