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tv   Inside Story  Al Jazeera  July 30, 2014 5:00pm-5:31pm EDT

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6:00 hour. and there was big news about the news economy. it has grown stronger than a lot of economists predicted. i'm david shuster. "inside story" is next. right here on al jazeera america. . >> job training was the subject of something you rarely see in washington. a near unanimous vote in the house of representatives. the goal is to train up more workers for available jobs and run federal job training programs more efficiently. and it's the "inside story."
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hilter you hello, i'm ray suarez. millions have been out of work. millions who had lost jobs. millions who ran through extended jobless benefits and ran through the ranks of the uncounted and unemployed. yet when you look at the sunday classifieds in big metropolitan newspapers there are a lot of jobs on offer. so what's the problem? are employers looking for workers with skills that aren't widely available? did the education and work lives of unemployed people prepare them for jobs no one wants to pay them to do? the federal government says it has a piece of the answer. in an extremely rare show of unit union minutety, washington wants to match today's people with today's jobs. >> look at everybody smiling. we could do this all the time. >> with people unemployed across
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the united states. lawmakers moved last week to close the skills gap. >> our work can make a real difference in the lives of real americans. that's why we're here. we'll have more job satisfaction. the american people are customers, they'll feel better about the product that we produced. >> the produced the workforce innovation and opportunity act. an update to workforce investment act. the new bill was signed by the president last week. it outlines a path towards more accessible and industry specific training centers, more budget flexibility for local programs and common ways to measure performance. it all aims to grow middle class job opportunities in sectors such as manufacturing.
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some 600,000 positions remain unfilled because employers say they can't find the people with the right set of talents. the new legislation cuts 15 programs in an effort to eliminate waste. the kind of efficiency many republicans have clam mored for. on july 9th the bill passed the usually divided house 415-6 with the support of education committee chairman john cline. >> quiet frankly our system is broken. do much bureaucracy and very little accountability. we've known about these problems for years but have failed to act until now. we have an opportunity to advance reforms that will help all americans compete and succeed in today's workforce. >> the president welcomed the bipartisan effort. >> i want to thank all the democrats and republicans here today for getting this bill done. this is a big piece of work. it's a big bill. but i'm inviting you back. let's do this more often.
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it's that much fun. let's pass more bills. let's create more jobs and strengthen the middle class. >> but not everyone agrees it's the skills that is holding people back. not creating enough good jobs in the first place, or leaving employers reluctant to hire. >> the workforce innovation and opportunity act today on the program, does it make the right assumptions about what is ailing the jock market. is more training, training that tries to match the state of desires of employers and just what the unemployed need. patrick brennan, associate editor of the "national review." in cans can city, month, david smith chief of staff of the kansas city cans public schools and from philadelphia, peter capelli director of the wharton
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schools center of human resources at the university of pennsylvania. i'm going to assume if this is a solution there's got to be a problem in the first place, so i would like to start with you, david smith. if i was to walk around kansas city, either kansas or missouri, the whole metro, are there a lot of employers who can't find workers who know how to do what they need to get done? >> that's something that we've been told. we tried to have a lot of communication with our employers in the area. one of the things they say they've got positions such as high tech positions using machines and machinist positions using computers and they can't find the workers. one of the things we tried to do is to make sure what we're preparing kids for both with what we do in the school direct as well as the community college that we often connect our kids do is targeted to getting them into the kinds of jobs that is open here in this area.
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>> peter capelli is part of the problem that people don't want to move or don't want to move as much as they might have wanted to in the 70's and 80's? it just sounds odd that there are so many jobs on offer, and nobody to take them. >> well, i think the assumption is just wrong. there is no evidence that there are lots of jobs available with nobody to do them. one of the things we have to remember is there are always vacancies in the economy. it doesn't mean that they don't get filled. if you have a job that is open, you post it. you interview people and look for people and for that month you've got an unfilled job. it doesn't mean that you can't fill it. the other thing we have to think what has actually changed now? is it impossible to find people who can do these jobs? the big change is this. employers a generation ago would say give us workers with the
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right attitude and basic skills competency skills like reading and math, and we'll train them. the difference now is employers say we can't afford to train and we can't afford to pay more, and we still need people who can step right in to our jobs without training and do them from the first day. that is a tall order. it's a big change, and i think that's what is behind these stories. >> patrick brennan, we saw republicans join in with democrats to pass this bill. why weren't they trying to take down the whole federal edifice of job training programs in the first place if peter capelli is right. >> i'm sure there are republicans in the house who did want to do that. that's usually something that democrats tend to be loathed to do. it's been demonstrated to be ineffective and not a good use of federal dollars, but i'm sure
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there would be enthusiasm for that on the right side of the ail and ideas from the left but they probably want to layer them on the existing bureaucracy. the federal job training programs don't seem to work. whether they're the right answer to what peter is describing as a problem is not necessarily clear. it's not clear how well they can respond to the needs of employers. they can try. part of the bill that was just passed it's received to match training programs better to what employers want. but in a rapidly moving world where employers don't invest in their workers, it's hard to imagine that the federal government will know better how to invest in them. >> one of the goals is to harmonize better with the states. is that a worth while goal? >> as we just heard this is a long-standing problem. the real problem is exactly that issue of employers on the ground needing this. governments above trying to match that need, and governments
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are slow. everybody is slow in this context. and so anything that tries to bring the two closer together is a step in the right direction, but i guess we need a big step. we need a sleep rather than kind of incremental moves. but it's more or less been the same story for the last 30 years or so that i've been looking at this. you know, maybe we're getting a little closer but we're certainly not close enough to do a lot of good. >> david smith, a long, long time ago when i was in high school when we were wearing knee pants and playing football with leather helmets, private employers actually sponsored programs in high schools, in vocational schools that set up a pipeline directly from schools into the plant. in a situation that sort of is a hybrid of what we heard peter describing a moment ago, they were putting their own influence on the programs, their own
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instructors, their own standards in place, and cooperating with the schools in creating those already-trained employees to walk in, to be tool and dye workers, pipe fitters and other things. do you see that happening in your school system? are employer demands specific enough about what they want? >> ray, i do see that, and i see it not just in our school system but in our community. i think one of the things we figured out is it's not just about a school district. we have to work with the two- and four-year college in this region in order as a group as education community to provide the things that employers need. there is more conversation back and forth with employers and community coming, which does a lot vocational training so we can be specific so that the kinds of skills that we're training students for are the things that they can go out and use immediately. i think we've done a lot to change how we do our programming, what kind of things we encourage our students to do
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in order to meet the needs that we see out there in our community. >> patrick brennan, is there an aspect of this that is kind of like voting for motherhood and apple pie. one of the rare agreement from both sides of the aisle because everyone is for better-trained workers and who is going to make a stink about that? >> it's an appealing issue, and people like the idea of training americans to do these manufacturing jobs. so i think it has a lot of appeal. it's also just a spending program. it's not a gigantic spending program, but the government spends billions of dollars a year on job training, so few politician also say no to that. there was some--there was a small step forward in terms of reforming these programs, and i think as david said, you know, a
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bigger step is necessary. bigger steps can be a little less universally popular than apple pie. >> we're going to take a short break. when we come back we'll talk about whether these big institutions, governments, education systems are able to hit what seems like an ever smaller target, that is that sweet spot of what prosecutor employers are looking for. this is "inside story." stay with us.
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>> welcome back to "inside story" on al jazeera america. i'm ray suarez. one of the main objectives by the new streamline law is to coordinate better with similar services already being offered by states. but peter, a little earlier you talked about th the difficulty in matching those two things up. do schools move in a way that resembles the speed of the job market? when employers make it clear they need something, phlebotomists in hospitals, people who know how to keep data records in hospitality industries, any specific need. by the time the school gets a training program in place do we even know if employers still want those things or want them in the same numbers?
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>> i think you're right, and that is a very big problem. i think that gets worse if the employers are one step removed. they're just sitting, waiting for students to come. i think everybody recognizes that bringing them closer together shortens that time lag, and i think with the issues we're focusing on here around manufacturing and technical skills, hands on skills, first we should be clear it's a pretty small section of the economy we're talking about. what is true here may not be true everywhere else, but it's probably true that we kind of dropped the ball in the u.s. on this one by making a shift away from vocational schools like the kind you have described. those programs we grew up with are largely dead and the reason they were killed is because we thought they attract kids into dead-end career paths.
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that's true of vocational schools. >> are we taking some of that, i don't know, fear of judgment that we have about vo tech, delaying people from college, deferring people from college and saying this is a good way for people who will be tomorrow's workers. >> let me tell you how we think about it in kansas city, kansas. we are a relatively poor community. 90% of our students are eligible for free and reduced lunch. our goal is to prepare each student for college and careers in a global society. for each of our students both of those things. the idea that all of our students can possibly go off to
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four-year institutions just isn't real. many of our students are going to have to be able to work and go to school at the same time. we're very clear that all of our students are going to need additional education and training beyond high school, but for some of them it means an credential that allows them to go directly in the workforce and continue their education and training. some of these students get stackel credentials where they get something that allows them to start and they continue their education while they're working. it does require some nimble action on our part. we got to be talking directly with employers on a regular basis along with a community college who does a lot of vocational training for this community. we have to be in constant conversation, and i think one of the things we have to give our employers credit for they're not just thinking today i need a phlebotomist. they're thinking two years and three years down the road. the workers we'll need, what is
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the training required and how do we work with the community college and school district to set that up. i think its difficult, it's challenging but our students are going to need this kind of vocational training just to get through to graduate in two or four more years. that's what we're trying to set up for them. >> patrick brennan, if our secondary schools across the country were doing a better job would we even be having this conversation? >> yes, like david said there are additional skills radar. they don't have to come from a four-year institution. that used to come from employers. employers used to invest in their workers because people used to have longer job tenures. but now that's not the case. and if has to come from somewhere. we put a lot of money in our secondary schools. if we had better secondary
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schools, that would help, but no investment to colleges and four-year universities and lack of attention to post-secondary education. there are some congressmen who are start to go make move in this direction. lee and rubio who are talking about, look, we need to open up the--look at how accreditation works and support for kids after they graduate from high school to get federal support for other kinds of learning opportunities. the federal government has not filled that gap. >> patrick, maybe it's time for tough love for employers. if they want people to have specific skills, let's get them off the federal nipple have have
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them train their workers, no? >> yes, that's true. and employers are starting to team up with certain kinds of online training programs to teach their employers--teach employees how to do computer programming, learn specific skills and whatnot. i think that they will do that, but it's hard for them to figure out a way to do that especially and in a still depressed economy. that's the many problem. i think all of us agree that the skill set does not explain the current labor market. but the labor market is more than employers not having the employees with the skill set and i think that seems to be reasonable. >> that's where i pant to--i want to pick things up when we come back. we know we return we want to talk about that skills gap, if it's really a skills gap or wages gap. if jobs paid better would
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>> you're watching "inside story" on aage america. i'm ray suarez. we're looking at the latest effort by the federal government to reduce joblessness by better matching what workers can do with what employers want. when educators and governments set out with the purpose of matching worker skills with workplace demands is it worthwhile. we'll continue our conversation with patrick brennan, associate editor of the "national review." in kansas city, missouri, david smith, chief of staff of the kansas city, kansas, public schools, and peter capelli, director of the wharton schools at the university of pennsylvania. patrick, you touched on this
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just before the break, but i want to give a chance to expand on this. if there was a skills gap wouldn't there be a pay premium for people who hold the skills? >> the traditional idea that there is a skills gap, wages are not rising, and if there were, employers would be paying more to get those skilled workers. that ignores the fact that the skills gap is probably concentrated in particular places and industries. but even in those place wage wages are not rising all that quickly. they are in construction and manufacturing, but certain places, but fundamentally the economy remains subdued so employers don't have--the demand is low so employers don't have the money to hire the workers. it's not surprising that the wages aren't rising which suggests that fixing the skills
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gap won't solve our current labor market problem but does suggest there is a problem to be addressed down the line. >> do you think there is a skills gap? >> i think back to your wage question, i think wage is part of the problem particularly in manufacturing. manufacturing has changed quite a bit. this is not to suggest that any employer is a bad guy in this context, but the world has changed. they don't hire people and train them for lifetime careers any more. even the small employers who used to be able to pull people away from big employers who had those programs, the big employers are gone, so there is nothing around, the problem is student in high school when they're looking at careers and they're looking at manufacturing jobs, they say they need thee skills and computer skills as well and the wages are not all
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that great. manufacturing employers like to think that people go into healthcare because manufacture something dirty. but healthcare is dirty. the reason they're not going into manufacturing and they are going into healthcare is that they think first there is a lot more jobs in healthcare. it's more stable, and a lot of those jobs pay better, frankly, especially if you have computer skills. >> not to suggest that employers are bad guys, but in your research you found that they don't even always hire people for the openings they have, isn't that right? >> for sure, and this is not new. a lot of job ads that we see posted don't reflect a lot of jobs behind them. in a lot of cases they're shopping, well, let's see what we can find. in many cases they don't pay the market wage and they're willing to let people go or not fill the
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position. employers themselves are not perfect for sure, and their hiring practices could be better. in many cases they don't know what it's costing them or figured it out to look and see what it costs them to keep a position open, and waiting for that purple squirrel, as they say, the perfect candidate drops in their lapse. >> david smith it's your students who are making up their own minds how much training they need, how much schooling they need, and how much they're willing to invest in themselves. this is a confusing set of incentives, isn't it? >> it's a challenge. one of the things that we think about and talked about the idea that maybe our perceptions of nursing and how dirty it is compared to manufacturing, if we do a better job of getting our students out to employers, and we're starting that now as early as fifth grade. getting them to visit job sites
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and explore that, if we can do that our students will have a better mesh of their skills and interests and what they want to do with their lives and what's out there in the workforce. it is a challenge. this is not going to solve all of it, but we need to have better relationships with employers across the community and colleges and universities where our students are going to be going to make sure that our kids have a pathway that will take them to the job and more importantly the kind of life they want to live. >> can you tell them every day without sounding boring and repetitive that high school is not going to be enough? >> absolutely, and we say that every day. 64% of the jobs in here in 2018 here in kansas will require more than post secondary education. we tell them that. it doesn't mean that you're going to go to a four-year institution immediately but you
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will get more training. we say that again and again. i think they're starting to take us seriously. >> gentlemen, thank you all. this brings us to the end of this edition of "inside story." thank you for being with us. the program may be over, but the conversation continues. we want to hear what you think about the issues raised on this or any day's shows. you can log on to our facebook page and you can send us your thoughts on twitter. our handle is aj inside story am or reach me directly @ray suarez news. see you for the next "inside story." in washington i'm ray suarez. >> coming up at 6:00 p.m. he or she, the sanctions against russia are piling up but vladimir putin does not appear phased. and we'll have reaction from washington and moscow. also more civilians are dead
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after israel tried to hit hamas by hit another shell in gaza that was run by the united nations. there's been a big turn around in the u.s. economy. we'll see what the new numbers mean. all that and more coming up at 6:00 p.m. eastern. >> hello and welcome. i'm phil torres here to talk about innovations that can change lives. hardware and humanity and we're doing it in a unique way. a show of science by scientists. dr. shini somara shini somara is a mechanical engineer. as scientists test new building tines can they survive the most powerful twisters on the planets? kosta grammatis, feeding a hungry planet.


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