On the Skills of Our Work Force

On the Skills of Our Work Force

In his article, “Human Capital and Economic Policy” (Dissent, Summer 1983), Robert B. Reich offers a critique of current corporate and government
programs for improving the skills of the American work force. He describes some of the impediments to the mobility of workers that prevent or complicate their efforts to upgrade their skills. He notes the inadequacies of the unemployment insurance program and of many other regional or local programs. He deplores the waste of human resources in dead-end jobs and in unproductive pursuits, such as financial manipulation. The improvement of human capital lies for him at the core of economic policy, and he recommends tax incentives as well as a voucher system to begin to deal with it. The vouchers would be issued to unemployed workers, entitling them to training by private firms, whose training costs in turn would be reimbursed by the government.

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