Thursday, July 22, 2010

Training for What?

By: Elizabeth de Renzy, Researcher & Data Analyst

A New York Times article on Monday – After Training, Still Scrambling for Employment – confirmed what we at Women's Initiative for Self Employment have long suspected: job training is only useful if there are jobs to be had. On the other hand, microenterprise training is a proven method of job creation. Our white paper – Job Creation through Microenterprise Development – shows that the women who go through the small business training program offered by Women's Initiative not only produce jobs for themselves, but for others as well. In fact, in 2009 alone, Women's Initiative clients created more than 2,200 jobs.

It’s time for the government to realize that no amount of job training is going to help people find employment when there are no jobs to be had. With the number of unemployed workers still outnumbering job openings five to one, it is more important than ever that federal funding through the Workforce Investment Act should focus on job creation as well as job training.
Current job training programs appear to be operating under outdated assumptions about the economy. “A lot of the training programs that we have in this country were designed for a kind of quick turnaround economy, as opposed to the entrenched structural challenges of today,” the New York Times quoted Rutgers University labor economist, Carl E. Van Horn saying.
A study conducted by the Department of Labor showed that, even before the recession, job training programs resulted in little or no increase in earnings for participants. In contrast, women who participate in microenterprise training programs are seeing significant increases in earnings. Women’s Initiative graduates typically increase their income an average of 75% within the first 12 months after training.
In a Huffington Post op-ed Julian L. Alssid, Executive Director of Workforce Strategy Center in New York City, agreed that skills training alone isn't enough without job creating strategies.
Consider these three reasons to include job creation through microenterprise training in our workforce investment strategy:
· 18% of all US employment is in the microenterprise sector.
· Microenterprise training enables unemployed workers to create jobs for themselves and others in their community.
· Microenterprise training results in an increase in income and assets, thus stimulating the economy.

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