The solution to America's jobs crisis may need to be imported.
The Wall Street Journal reports that U.S. policymakers are paying more attention to German worker training programs, aiming to address the “skills mismatch” that many say is exacerbating an already dismal job market.
Even as the unemployment rate hovers above 8 percent, many employers -- particularly those in the highly-skilled industries of technology and manufacturing -- say they aren’t finding enough applicants with the right skills to fill their open positions. In many cases, employers hold out for months to fill positions where they can’t find the right workers, according to USA Today. In one case, a hospital company that operates in six states kept a job listing for a nursing specialist position open for 800 days before giving up on filling it.
The Journal reports that Volkswagen, Siemens, BMW and other German manufacturers have longed used apprenticeship type programs to get U.S. workers up-to-speed in complex manufacturing work. The programs typically involve partnerships with local community colleges to train potential workers in welding, machining and other skills.
General Electric, Boeing, Microsoft and others are employing similar programs to make sure they have enough skilled workers to fill the positions of retiring engineers and scientists, according to Bloomberg. In many cases, the companies mold the curricula at various colleges so that graduates leave school immediately able to fill the jobs.
To be sure, some say that the skills mismatch argument is overblown. An April research paper from the San Francisco Federal Reserve found that the skills gap accounts for only a small and transitory part of the unemployment situation. Earlier this month, economists at the Chicago Federal Reserve came to a similar conclusion: That a skills gap may exist, but it’s not very big, the Wall Street Journal reports.