Job Training Works. So Why Not Do More?

By Eduardo Porter, The New York Times

Unemployed after cycling through temporary jobs in insurance, accounting and real estate, Lisa Edwards was considering whether to borrow and go back to college three years ago when she came upon a flier on Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn. It was for a “women in technology” program offered by Per Scholas, a nonprofit offering low-income workers training in information technology.

Five months later, Ms. Edwards landed on the leading edge of a promising approach to helping embattled workers attain and hold on to a middle-class life in an economy that has devalued the work of all but the best educated.

Ms. Edwards, a middle-age mother of three, emerged from the Per Scholas program with CompTIA A Plus and Network Plus certifications in computers and networking. She first got an apprenticeship at the network operations center of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Then she got another at Barclays Bank, troubleshooting the voice recording systems.

Though Ms. Edwards makes several thousand dollars less as a Barclays apprentice than at her last post, at Countrywide, she now has more than just a job. She is on a career path offering a shot at progress.

“In three years for sure I’ll be making two to three times what I am making now,” she told me.

It’s hard to muster enthusiasm these days for the prospects of workers on all but the topmost rungs of the labor market. Wages of high school dropouts are lower than they were at the turn of the century in real terms. The same goes for workers with a high school diploma, and also for workers who went to college but stopped short of a bachelor’s degree.

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