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kojax
Post  Post subject: Re: Skills shortage?  |  Posted: Sun Jan 04, 2015 3:22 am
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billvon wrote:

Average janitorial wage in the US in $25,834 (salary.com)
Living wage for Fresno, California for a single person is $19,132 (livingwage.mit.edu)
Delta - $6702

Tuition at Fresno City College $1324 - (fresnocitycollege.edu) for less than half time student
Books and supplies estimate $1262 (from same website)
Transportation estimate $1258

Total $3844 in increased expenses for college

Left over - $2858 a year



Don't forget to include asking where this guy is going to find the time.

However, while we're on this topic I have to concede that the situation looks even more optimistic if the janitor were to pursue a trade instead of a collegiate degree. Maybe become a machinist, or a locksmith, or something like that? Then use his new, higher wage, to go to college?

The trouble is that too many people have kids too young, and then their expenses begin to sky rocket. It's hard to weigh saving money against buying the kid something to help them in school. If you honestly can't afford it, then you can forgo stuff to stay in budget, but you'll be tempted to spend any money that is available helping them to get a good start in life, instead of helping yourself.

A janitor with kids will likely remain a janitor his whole life.


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billvon
Post  Post subject: Re: Skills shortage?  |  Posted: Sun Jan 04, 2015 6:29 am

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kojax wrote:
Don't forget to include asking where this guy is going to find the time.

Or who he will get help from if he has problems with the coursework, or how he will afford to drive to school if he has a gas guzzler, or what happens if he gets sick and can't take a final . . . . yes, there are a lot of challenges faced by anyone trying to get an education. It's certainly not the easy option.
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The trouble is that too many people have kids too young, and then their expenses begin to sky rocket. It's hard to weigh saving money against buying the kid something to help them in school. If you honestly can't afford it, then you can forgo stuff to stay in budget, but you'll be tempted to spend any money that is available helping them to get a good start in life, instead of helping yourself.

Definitely - and that's just one of the choices he might make early on that might make it harder to get an education. You can't hit "reset" on every decision you make in life.


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kojax
Post  Post subject: Re: Skills shortage?  |  Posted: Sun Jan 04, 2015 11:02 am
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The next question will be: what will we do when the market for skilled trades drops out? I met a fellow from Mexico once who was a doctor in Mexico, but he was up in the USA working an unskilled job because that was better money than he could make as a doctor in Mexico. (And his skills wouldn't carry over to be a doctor in the USA due to a difference in requirements.)

I've read a few anecdotal descriptions by people traveling in places like Turkey which go along the same lines, describing cab drivers who have degrees in engineering, but prefer to drive cabs because there is no market for their skills.

When wealth polarizes, demand for consumer goods and/or services drops. That means that, even if you are highly skilled at producing consumer goods/services (such as medical care, or designing widgets), you still won't make a good living. The economy will begin to centralize on trading in real estate and scarce minerals, because that's what rich people will be trading around with each other. They're only going to buy consumer goods up to a certain point, because you can only own so many nice cars before you start to forget where you put them. The rest of their budget will go into status goods.

Think about the middle ages, when merchants occasionally made their fortune by sailing to the West Indies and returning with a boatload of black pepper, and whole wars were fought over access to the "spice road". The concentrated wealth created a situation where acquiring access to a silly luxury good could make or break a nation's economy.


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Rory
Post  Post subject: Re: Skills shortage?  |  Posted: Sun Jan 04, 2015 4:16 pm
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Well now in the UK tuition fees are upto £9,000 per year, and that is what Oxbridge and red brick/Russell Group Universities tend to charge. So if you want an undergraduate education from an institution with a high REF status then that is £27,000 just for tuition - then accommodation and living expenses will generally be in the region of £10,000 per year. So... £30,000 on living expenses for the duration of the degree. Total £57,000.

A janitor (we tend to call them cleaners or caretakers in the UK) typically earns minimum wage which is currently £6.50/hour. A janitor working 9-5 would earn approximately £11,000 per year - the first £10,000 or so is tax-free so let's assume that the janitor pays no tax. Even if by living extremely frugally the janitor was able to save half of his wage every month (which is approximately the amount that unemployed welfare recipients live on) then it would still take him 10.36 years to be able to afford the costs of education.

Call me cynical but I don't think anybody in their right mind would think that a good strategy.

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billvon
Post  Post subject: Re: Skills shortage?  |  Posted: Tue Jan 06, 2015 7:12 pm

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Rory wrote:
A janitor (we tend to call them cleaners or caretakers in the UK) typically earns minimum wage which is currently £6.50/hour.

Ah, that's part of the difference, then. Your average janitor here makes 70% more than minimum wage, and of course education is far cheaper.

In any case, if such people want to advance into a different job, the best way to help them do that is to make education more affordable. Basic (community college level) education should be as close to free as we can make it.


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iNow
Post  Post subject: Re: Skills shortage?  |  Posted: Wed Jan 07, 2015 5:21 am
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billvon wrote:
Basic (community college level) education should be as close to free as we can make it.

I certainly agree, but do wonder... Why stop at basic education and community college?

Are you thinking maybe that nothing beyond that is politically feasible, or do you have some other reason why to limit it there and not include university, too? Perhaps you never meant to imply a limit at all and I'm just reading something into your words that you didn't intend to convey?

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Rory
Post  Post subject: Re: Skills shortage?  |  Posted: Wed Jan 07, 2015 8:48 am
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There might be the implicit attitude that those unable to pay, regardless of their academic ability, do not deserve to be provided with the highest stabdard of education - or, even if they do deserve it, you don't particularly want them to receive it. It's the same reason why, when presented with prospective students of equal academic ability from different social classes, Oxbridge will disproportionately favour the upper class kids. I think this boils down to the fact that those making the decisions are themselves from an upoer class background and they can't see past the threat to their own social standing caused by social mobility to regard smart working class kids as an asset. As a working class candidate you are very quickly made to feel unwelcome.

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kojax
Post  Post subject: Re: Skills shortage?  |  Posted: Thu Jan 08, 2015 3:53 am
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We're still stuck with the other question though: will education level the playing field?

There is no guarantee it will. Supply and demand is what sets prices, even for labor. If a skillset is scarce, it will command a higher price than it would if it were common.

Your average high school graduate today is probably more educated overall than high school graduates 100 years ago. And 100 years ago having a high school diploma was not nearly as commn an achievement as it is today. What happens when a college degree gets to be as common as a highschool diploma?

If everyone has a scarce skillset, then either

A: The economy would need to have so many specialized roles that every form of specialist is scarce. (Very nearly 1 role per 1000 or 10,000 people, so as to keep the pool of applicants small for every possible career path.)

or

B: The skillsets would no longer be scarce, and therefore would likely no longer command a high market price.





Consider, for example, how much money automechanics make. It's a trade that requires a good amount of skill and training. But really how well does it pay? This is how much:

http://money.usnews.com/careers/best-jo ... nic/salary

The most plausible explanation for the generally lower wage is that too many people know how to do it. I think it is not because it isn't a useful skill, nor because it isn't difficult to learn.


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billvon
Post  Post subject: Re: Skills shortage?  |  Posted: Thu Jan 08, 2015 5:14 am

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iNow wrote:
billvon wrote:
Basic (community college level) education should be as close to free as we can make it.

I certainly agree, but do wonder... Why stop at basic education and community college?

Because that provides the basic skills needed to escape low-paying jobs, if the worker desires to do so. It is not necessary to provide the education needed to get to a PhD, for example - by the time someone has the education to consider becoming a PhD candidate their employment opportunities have greatly expanded.
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Are you thinking maybe that nothing beyond that is politically feasible, or do you have some other reason why to limit it there and not include university, too? Perhaps you never meant to imply a limit at all and I'm just reading something into your words that you didn't intend to convey?

This might be another terminology difference. Community college is "university" level education - it's just not as prestigious. Many community colleges offer full bachelor's degrees, and some offer MBA's and the like.

That being said, funding bachelor's degrees at other schools might also be a good idea. Community colleges provide basic post-primary education, which is the ticket out of a great many low paying jobs - so that should be the first priority.


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Rory
Post  Post subject: Re: Skills shortage?  |  Posted: Thu Jan 08, 2015 11:19 am
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kojax, yes, that's one of the points I was trying to stress earlier, that even if a minimum wage employee somehow sacrificed the majority of their income over decades to be able to fund their studies, the resulting qualification and skill set would not out-compete that of fellow graduates (of which there are many) and actually his/her social background will diminish the chances of securing a first graduate-level job, and of progressing in the field. If you speak with a broad accent then the types of people in a position to make a hiring decision will tend to assume that you are not capable of having valuable ideas.

billvon, so why don't working class people of academic ability deserve an Ivy league education?

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iNow
Post  Post subject: Re: Skills shortage?  |  Posted: Thu Jan 08, 2015 5:19 pm
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kojax wrote:
The most plausible explanation for the generally lower wage is that too many people know how to do it.

...or because those who control the wages are no longer pressured by workers organized in groups / unions
...or because unemployment is so high that the laborforce supply is high while laborforce demand is low and hiring companies have no incentive to compete with higher wages
...or because regulations on companies have been slashed
...or because owners are no longer in the shops, but instead conglomerates that own every shop within a given geograpy
...or ad infinitum...

So, CORRECTION: "Too many people having the skill" is ONE plausible explanation, but not necessarily THE MOST plausible. Surely, any reasonable observer would acknowledge that all of these factors contribute to the wage stagnation we see.


http://www.epi.org/publications/entry/t ... in_america
Quote:
Recent debates about whether public- or private-sector workers earn more have obscured a larger truth: all workers have suffered from decades of stagnating wages despite large gains in productivity. The current public discussion illogically pits state and local government employees against private workers, when both groups have failed to sufficiently benefit from the economic fruits of their labors. This paper examines trends in the compensation of public (state and local government) and private-sector employees relative to the growth of productivity over the past two decades.

This paper finds:

• U.S. productivity grew by 62.5% from 1989 to 2010, far more than real hourly wages for both private-sector and state/local government workers, which grew 12% in the same period. Real hourly compensation grew a bit more (20.5% for state/local workers and 17.9% for private-sector workers) but still lagged far behind productivity growth.

• Wage stagnation has hit high school–educated workers harder than college graduates, although both groups have suffered—and a bit more so in the public sector. For example, from 1989 to 2010, real wages for high school-educated workers in the private sector grew by just 4.8%, compared with 2.6% in state government. During the same period, real wages for college graduates in the private sector grew 19.4%, compared with 9.5% in state government.

• The typical worker has had stagnating wages for a long time, despite enjoying some wage growth during the economic recovery of the late 1990s. While productivity grew 80% between 1979 and 2009, the hourly wage of the median worker grew by only 10.1%, with all of this wage growth occurring from 1996 to 2002, reflecting the strong economic recovery of the late 1990s.

• The fading momentum of the 1990s recovery failed to propel real wage gains for college graduates employed by private-sector firms or states from 2002 to 2010, despite productivity growth of 20.2% over the same period.
These data underscore that there is a bigger story than public versus private compensation and a more penetrating set of questions to ask than who has more than whom. The ability of the economy to produce more goods and services has not translated into greater compensation for either group of workers. Why has pay fared so poorly overall? Why did the richest 1% of Americans receive 56% of all the income growth between 1989 and 2007, before the recession began (compared with 16% going to the bottom 90% of households)? Why are corporate profits 22% above their pre-recession level while total corporate sector employees’ compensation (reflecting lower employment and meager pay increases) is 3% below pre-recession levels? ...

Essentially, economic policy has not supported good jobs over the last 30 years or so. Rather, the focus has been on policies that were thought to make consumers better off through lower prices: deregulation of industries, privatization of public services, the weakening of labor standards including the minimum wage, erosion of the social safety net, expanding globalization, and the move toward fewer and weaker unions. These policies have served to erode the bargaining power of most workers, widen wage inequality, and deplete access to good jobs. In the last 10 years even workers with a college degree have failed to see any real wage growth.

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billvon
Post  Post subject: Re: Skills shortage?  |  Posted: Fri Jan 09, 2015 3:40 am

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kojax wrote:
We're still stuck with the other question though: will education level the playing field?

On what variable? Raw talent? People with more raw talent (intelligence, good judgment etc) will almost always be more successful than people without talent, assuming equal education. So no, it won't level the field that way.

Home environment? Again, no - someone from a poor home environment (low priority placed on education, no support, no role models) will almost always do more poorly than someone from a good home environment, again assuming the same education.

All education can do is to level the _educational_ playing field. Even with excellent free education for all, some will opt to not avail themselves of it, and some will not be _able_ to avail themselves of it, and some will not have the intelligence to benefit from it.

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Your average high school graduate today is probably more educated overall than high school graduates 100 years ago.


I don't know about that. Here are the directions for an eighth grade test from ~100 years ago:
http://bullittcountyhistory.org/bullitthistory/bchistory/schoolexam1912.html
How many 13 year olds today could pass that?

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The most plausible explanation for the generally lower wage is that too many people know how to do it. I think it is not because it isn't a useful skill, nor because it isn't difficult to learn.

That's likely - but keep in mind that that might be _due_ to the task becoming easier, or demand going down, or because it is now possible for someone in India to do it.


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Rory
Post  Post subject: Re: Skills shortage?  |  Posted: Fri Jan 09, 2015 10:02 am
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billvon,

I think kojax meant (and kojax please correct if I misinterpreted): would education level the economic playing field? I.e. if you granted all lower class individuals interested in receiving an education, the same standard of education as is currently only received by those with the ability to pay (upper classes), then would the economic fortunes of both classes of graduate equalise?

Personally I don't think that they would, due to discrimination against working class individuals in the workplace, and also due to market forces (supply of graduates in the labour market being high and demand for graduate-level labour being low).

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kojax
Post  Post subject: Re: Skills shortage?  |  Posted: Fri Jan 09, 2015 1:17 pm
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billvon wrote:
kojax wrote:
We're still stuck with the other question though: will education level the playing field?

On what variable? Raw talent? People with more raw talent (intelligence, good judgment etc) will almost always be more successful than people without talent, assuming equal education. So no, it won't level the field that way.

Home environment? Again, no - someone from a poor home environment (low priority placed on education, no support, no role models) will almost always do more poorly than someone from a good home environment, again assuming the same education.

All education can do is to level the _educational_ playing field. Even with excellent free education for all, some will opt to not avail themselves of it, and some will not be _able_ to avail themselves of it, and some will not have the intelligence to benefit from it.


I'm asking a broader economic question. If everyone were superhumanly skilled at, say medicine. Suppose 20% of the population had their MD. and were masterfully skilled at it.

What would be the going salary for a doctor under those conditions?

You're right that there will always be variation within the market. Because some skillsets will always be more scarce than others. I like to fuse "talent" and "skillset" into one category here, because because being talented in a given skillset simply means you have better skills.

However, you can only predict which field will be which to a limited degree of precision. It will always be at least partially a blind guess.

Quote:

Quote:
Your average high school graduate today is probably more educated overall than high school graduates 100 years ago.


I don't know about that. Here are the directions for an eighth grade test from ~100 years ago:
http://bullittcountyhistory.org/bullitthistory/bchistory/schoolexam1912.html
How many 13 year olds today could pass that?


Good point. Maybe that explains why having your highschool diploma means so little nowadays?

I can see that I must have had it backwards. And the trend seems to be growing toward college too, with easier coursework to ensure a higher number of students graduate there also. So maybe college degrees will start mattering less also, for that reason? (In which case employers will probably start turning to tests to measure ability, or something.)

Quote:

Quote:
The most plausible explanation for the generally lower wage is that too many people know how to do it. I think it is not because it isn't a useful skill, nor because it isn't difficult to learn.

That's likely - but keep in mind that that might be _due_ to the task becoming easier, or demand going down, or because it is now possible for someone in India to do it.


Someone from India being able to do it is just another form of over-supply. And it's a good idea not to sneer at the poor automechanics in that case.

Lots of people in India are also becoming Medical Doctors and computer programmers. There is no such thing as a "Skilled class" that couldn't end up in oversupply due to competition by workers from India with lower salary requirements.

You might study into a field that is currently in undersupply, get done with your degree, have school loans looming over your head, and then go look for a job only to discover that your field went from undersupply to oversupply while you were in school.

At that point, it's too late to go back and do it all again (or at least if you do then your school loans will grow even bigger.) But you also did nothing wrong. You had ambition, determination, and discipline. All you lacked was a magical crystal ball that could tell you the future.


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kojax
Post  Post subject: Re: Skills shortage?  |  Posted: Fri Jan 09, 2015 2:54 pm
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iNow wrote:
kojax wrote:
The most plausible explanation for the generally lower wage is that too many people know how to do it.

...or because those who control the wages are no longer pressured by workers organized in groups / unions
...or because unemployment is so high that the laborforce supply is high while laborforce demand is low and hiring companies have no incentive to compete with higher wages
...or because regulations on companies have been slashed
...or because owners are no longer in the shops, but instead conglomerates that own every shop within a given geograpy
...or ad infinitum...

So, CORRECTION: "Too many people having the skill" is ONE plausible explanation, but not necessarily THE MOST plausible. Surely, any reasonable observer would acknowledge that all of these factors contribute to the wage stagnation we see.



Mechanics were still earning a pretty low wage even in the 1990's, when the economy was doing better. A union might be able to mitigate the effect a bit, but even having a union won't enable you to fully overcome a supply/demand imbalance.

I'm presently working for the US Post Office, which has a union, and they've allowed the company to slash wages to the point where you can be 2 years in now, and you will still be earning less than what the starting wage was for a temp 6 years ago.

It seems that demand for mail has gone down even more than aggregate demand overall, because of email and stuff.

But I definitely agree those things also affect it, especially the consolidation issue. The major advantage of a consolidator is their ability to force low prices out of the providers of their inputs, be it wages, materials, services - you name it. Anything specialized to the point where it can't be put to use in another industry (no option for "substitution" of employment) begins to become undervalued once one corporation gains too much market share for an industry.

They then pass on most of the savings to the consumer. So, good for the consumer. Well.... unless the consumer was getting their income by providing one of those inputs....


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iNow
Post  Post subject: Re: Skills shortage?  |  Posted: Fri Jan 09, 2015 3:35 pm
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kojax wrote:
I'm presently working for the US Post Office, which has a union, and they've allowed the company to slash wages to the point where you can be 2 years in now, and you will still be earning less than what the starting wage was for a temp 6 years ago.

It seems that demand for mail has gone down even more than aggregate demand overall, because of email and stuff.

I'm sorry to hear about your wage issue, and you're quite right. USPS demand is way down due to email, and they are also struggling from the incredible competition of major market players like UPS, FedEx, and DHL.

kojax wrote:
But I definitely agree those things also affect it, especially the consolidation issue. The major advantage of a consolidator is their ability to force low prices out of the providers of their inputs, be it wages, materials, services - you name it.

It's almost feudalistic or plutocratic or oligarchic, even.




Rory wrote:
I think kojax meant (and kojax please correct if I misinterpreted): would education level the economic playing field? I.e. if you granted all lower class individuals interested in receiving an education, the same standard of education as is currently only received by those with the ability to pay (upper classes), then would the economic fortunes of both classes of graduate equalise?

Not entirely, but it appears that it would help tremendously and in several different ways.

http://www.epi.org/publication/states-e ... undations/
Quote:
Major findings of this report include the following:
  • Overwhelmingly, high-wage states are states with a well-educated workforce. There is a clear and strong correlation between the educational attainment of a state’s workforce and median wages in the state.
  • States can build a strong foundation for economic success and shared prosperity by investing in education. Providing expanded access to high quality education will not only expand economic opportunity for residents, but also likely do more to strengthen the overall state economy than anything else a state government can do.
  • Cutting taxes to capture private investment from other states is a race-to-the-bottom state economic development strategy that undermines the ability to invest in education.
  • States can increase the strength of their economies and their ability to grow and attract high-wage employers by investing in education and increasing the number of well-educated workers.
  • Investing in education is also good for state budgets in the long run, since workers with higher incomes contribute more through taxes over the course of their lifetimes.

<snip>

Ultimately, the wealth of a society can increase only if the economy becomes more productive. A more productive economy can support both higher wages and higher profits, as well as shorter work weeks and a higher quality of life. So the question of how to increase productivity needs to be at the center of any debate about state economic development.

As this paper shows, moving jobs from one state to another state does nothing to increase productivity. Rather, productivity rises with investments in infrastructure and workers, with investments in education that raise educational achievement providing a major boost. Thus, investing in education is a core contribution states can make to the well-being of their residents and the national economy overall.
<snip>
But most importantly, states can build a strong foundation for economic success and shared prosperity by investing in strategies that make their people more productive, chief among them education. Providing expanded access to high quality education and related supports—particularly for those young people who today lack such access—will not only expand economic opportunity for those individuals, but will also likely do more to strengthen the overall state economy than anything else a state government can do.

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billvon
Post  Post subject: Re: Skills shortage?  |  Posted: Fri Jan 09, 2015 10:18 pm

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Rory wrote:
I think kojax meant (and kojax please correct if I misinterpreted): would education level the economic playing field? I.e. if you granted all lower class individuals interested in receiving an education, the same standard of education as is currently only received by those with the ability to pay (upper classes), then would the economic fortunes of both classes of graduate equalise?


Definitely not, although they would likely move in that direction. I don't know who you consider "lower class" but let's assume you meant low-income people. They might be low-income for a variety of reasons:

1) They do not have access to educational opportunities they could use to improve themselves
2) They do not wish to continue in school
3) They do not have the intelligence, skill or ability to do very well at most endeavors
4) They prefer their lives the way they are
5) They are discriminated against based on their sex, skin color, religion or handicap

Of those things, making education universally available will only change one. It is (IMO) quite important to provide people with that opportunity, but that alone will not "equalize the classes." Indeed, nothing will completely - although we can reduce the gap.


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iNow
Post  Post subject: Re: Skills shortage?  |  Posted: Sat Jan 10, 2015 5:08 am
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Reminded me of this quote:

"In 100 years we have gone from teaching Latin and Greek in high school to teaching Remedial English in college." - Joseph Sobran

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iNow
Post  Post subject: Re: Skills shortage?  |  Posted: Tue Feb 24, 2015 11:50 pm
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Another perspective:

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/23/opini ... power.html
Quote:
there’s a new form of issue-dodging packaged as seriousness on the rise. This time, the evasion involves trying to divert our national discourse about inequality into a discussion of alleged problems with education. And the reason this is an evasion is that whatever serious people may want to believe, soaring inequality isn’t about education; it’s about power. <...> I keep seeing is people insisting that educational failings are at the root of still-weak job creation, stagnating wages and rising inequality. This sounds serious and thoughtful. But it’s actually a view very much at odds with the evidence, not to mention a way to hide from the real, unavoidably partisan debate.

The education-centric story of our problems runs like this: We live in a period of unprecedented technological change, and too many American workers lack the skills to cope with that change. This “skills gap” is holding back growth, because businesses can’t find the workers they need. It also feeds inequality, as wages soar for workers with the right skills but stagnate or decline for the less educated. So what we need is more and better education. <...> It’s repeated so widely that many people probably assume it’s unquestionably true. But it isn’t. <...> there’s no evidence that a skills gap is holding back employment. <...> the notion that highly skilled workers are generally in demand is just false.

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Rory
Post  Post subject: Re: Skills shortage?  |  Posted: Wed Feb 25, 2015 1:18 pm
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Absolutely - it doesn't make sense to claim that there is a skills shortage when more young people than ever (at least, in the UK) are completing higher education. I am a real-life example: ask me to run an agarose gel, perform a Western blot, culture some cells, review the literature, write a paper, design an experiment, solve real world problems and I can do it, as I have done in my previous jobs. Will anybody employ me to do it? Na-da.

Will anybody consider me to work in a low-skilled job as a factory worker or waitress? Maybe - as long as I don't expect contractual rights such as fair pay, guaranteed hours, a pension or job security.

UK and US labour market you make me :lol: :lol:

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kojax
Post  Post subject: Re: Skills shortage?  |  Posted: Thu Feb 26, 2015 1:21 am
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It depends on what kind of skill you are after. The "conjure demand from nowhere" skill is in high demand right now. But not very many people have that skill. A few governments out there are willing to mint money and spend it on useless projects (or wars.) But outside of that, most of the money that would go into demand is getting sopped up into the investment sector in the form of debt/investment, where it gradually circulates less and less until it stagnates.


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