Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Learning By Doing Theory

There's little demand for inexperienced workers. Almost all companies want to hire workers with prior experience in their field, to minimize training expenses, and to start productive working immediately. This leads to the extreme environment I have been seeing for the past year where many companies won't even bother with a person who isn't already working in their field, and all companies demand prior experience. Those with little to none, like myself, where left with a catch-22 of requiring the experience to even get the experience required. This had to be frustrating for the companies too, who keep wondering why the figurative watering hole has been permanently dried up. (Like most professions, IT workers like me do not spring fully formed from Zeus's forehead!)
I think the entire system would benefit from workfare. People would be paid to do things, thereby getting the money to raise them out of poverty, but more importantly, they would have experience that would make them more attractive to hire in the first place. Companies would gleefully hire up the workforce bunch, who have prior experiences doing what they want and can be laboring productively starting immediately, and the training expenses have already been handled. The paying government would also benefit of progressively shrinking welfare rolls as the petitioners get snapped up into the workforce and the economy recovers.
However, for this to work, workfare would have to revolve around all sorts of industry's work, without stepping on that industry's toes by competing. We do need shovelers and road crews to fix our roads, but having done that doesn't benefit any industry. If the government did manufacturing, engineering projects, and IT, three industries with large demand for the foreseeable future, wouldn't companies that do manufacturing, engineering, and IT complain about the competition? (Yes, undoubtedly.) So the government would have people manufacture build and program systems....that would be thrown in a hole and forgotten. Not good for the morale of the workers, nor would the government really benefit from the results of that.
A better idea are institutions like NASA. NASA has a massive crew of engineers with numerous skills that almost any company would want to hire, but it focuses on something that companies can't yet do profitably for themselves -- space travel. (Space engineering is extremely expensive, and won't be profitable until we figure out some way to keep the expenses down.) So a workfare engineering facility would have to manufacture things that are useful to the government, but not profitable for private companies to make. Specialized tools for the CIA, perhaps. And government IT would have to focus on programming and maintaining computer systems that are somehow unprofitable for private contractor work. I can't think of any of these offhand, but I'm sure they exist and the NSA readily knows what these sorts of things would be.


The Chinese guy said...

Doesn't work. It used to when in the UK it was the YTS scheme (youth training scheme). 30 years ago the gov would pay 50% of the wages for a person to do exactly as you suggest. Employers kept many of them on. Today it doesn't work the gov now pays 100% of the wages for 12 months..... all that happens is that the employers 'hire' the person for 11.5 months and show them the door. Then they 'hire' another new deal person who is also paid for by the government.

Apprenticeships are even worse as they are abused even more. Instead of min wage jobs we now have fake apprenticeships, apprentice cleaners! apprentice office staff, apprentice bin men. All to save on 50% wages.

Mad Engineering said...

Scam, scam, scam, scam,
Scam, scam, scam, scam,
Loathsome scam!
Financial scam!

Yeah, I think people will game pretty much any system that exists. Hire people on food stamps because you can get away with paying them less. Hire people on work-release, because they have little choice in the matter. (They work, or it's straight back to jail with them.)
My proposal pays the PEOPLE, though, not the companies, but I predict that the companies will buy up the products of this labor for cheap, and then try to pass them off at full price. Why? Because they can.

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