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Upgrading Skills in US – A more comprehensive approach is required

To upgrade the skills of Americans at greatest risk from automation, a more comprehensive approach is required — one that’s backed by government. To start, states and the federal government should boost tax credits to encourage small and medium-sized businesses to invest more in retraining low-skilled workers. States should bolster workforce development boards that help community colleges and technical schools customize course offerings to meet the needs of local industries.

The government should also do more to promote apprenticeships, which allow workers, including mid-career professionals, to earn a salary while they learn new trades. The Trump administration has approved modest increases in federal grants to apprenticeship programs, but the U.S.’s investment remains paltry compared to that of countries, like Germany, with well-developed apprenticeship systems.

Workers themselves need to embrace the idea of retraining as a lifelong endeavor. Policy makers can assist by making short-term certificate programs eligible for federal student aid, as the bipartisan JOBS Act aims to do. Subsidized individual training accounts, like those offered by Singapore’s government, would encourage more adult learners to complete unfinished degrees or seek additional credentials. And Congress should revive the previous administration’s proposal to extend wage insurance to displaced workers who take new jobs at lower salaries. That would give middle-class workers the financial cushion to pursue more education while continuing to work.

Creating an educational and training system suited for the future of work will require government, educational institutions and industry leaders to collaborate. Success is possible, but it won’t come cheap. There are some things big business — even Amazon — can’t deliver.

Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor. Read the whole story at Employers Can’t Retrain the U.S. Workforce by Themselves – Bloomberg

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