LA JOLLA, Calif., Jan. 25, 2011 /PRNewswire/ — The State of the Union address on January 25 is the opportunity to focus the national agenda on what Americans care about most: jobs. That’s according to a study published in a new book: Closing America’s Job Gap by Mary Walshok, Tapan Munroe and Henry DeVries (W Business Books, January 2011).
“Unless President Obama and the new Congress can fully commit to stimulating start-up companies that create good jobs and invest in retraining to retain good jobs, the nation will lose its global competitiveness,” says Walshok, a sociologist who has done research for the U.S. Department of Labor and the dean of continuing education at the University of California San Diego (http://extension.ucsd.edu).
Several sectors offer great promise for job creation in the near future.
“Job creation opportunities are tremendous if the federal government can better align training with America’s growing innovation sectors: healthcare IT, digital media, precision manufacturing and retrofitting buildings to new environmental standards,” says Walshok. “This can best be done by modifying existing workplace skills or helping recent college graduates and mature adults bridge to new jobs.”
The authors suggest five ideas President Obama could urge Congress to pursue to stimulate jobs:
- Grow bottom up, not top down. Rather than federal top-down strategies for job creation, evidence confirms that a bottom-up approach that harnesses the wisdom of local communities is essential. The federal government needs to invest regionally in the kinds of collaborations that are already producing good jobs in high-tech, biotech and clean tech, for which specialized training may be needed.
- Encourage start-ups. The federal government needs to create and keep good jobs in America by supporting innovative start-up companies that create jobs and providing incentives for retraining people to be qualified for the new skills and technologies these start-ups need.
- Support regional business clusters. In today’s environment, regions need to be thinking about the industry clusters that can harness their assets to grow innovative new enterprises that can contribute to job creation. Governments in advanced countries around the globe have launched numerous programs to promote growth-producing collaboration in key industry clusters. We need regional cluster strategies which maximize the resources needed for regional prosperity. Bring together the four key players in economic growth — the research community, the entrepreneurs and investors, the economic development associations, and the educators and workforce training organizations.
- Tax incentives for training and tuition assistance programs. Investment in employee training needs a boost. According to the University and Professional Continuing Education Association, employers recognize the importance of employee education to remain competitive. But cash-starved start-ups could use some government help. There also needs to be incentives for colleges and training organizations to offer flexible formats and schedules as most adults are balancing work and family demands with their education.
- Think globally. Congress and the President need to stimulate training programs to assure America’s workforce has a clear sense of the enormous effects of globalization and new technologies on all industries and all workers and what they must do to be competitive. Six out of 10 university students believe their education has not prepared them to address these issues, according to a 2010 IBM survey of 3,600 students.
“This is not a new idea because 250 years ago Ben Franklin said an investment in knowledge always pays the best interest,” says Walshok. “What is new is that we are rapidly moving away from our grandfather’s high school-based economy. Research from Georgetown University in 2010 revealed the growing disconnect between the types of jobs that employers must fill and the number of Americans with the right education and training.”
But why is innovation the key?
“Many great new jobs can be created by innovations in technology that are being developed through university research labs and innovative start-up companies across the nation,” says Walshok, “but only if the President and Congress can give Americans the opportunity to acquire new knowledge and learn new skills to get the jobs innovation creates.”
For information about the book, go to http://www.closingamericasjobgap.com/
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