07/17/2010 01:23 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Extending Unemployment Benefits Won't Prepare People for Jobs

2010-07-17-LifePreserver.jpeg Extending unemployment benefits will not prepare the unemployed for the workforce anymore than a life preserver teaches someone to swim. While the benefits may provide immediate relief it doesn't really benefit the same people in the future. Because of what will appears to be a long duration of high unemployment numbers the administration should make mandatory skill enhancement part of the extended unemployment package. Rather than just giving money for extended unemployment let's make sure those same people are taught new skills so that they become more valuable going forward.

This is the 3rd time in 18 months that we have extended unemployment benefits at a cost of 34b, just this round. I don't have a problem with the cost but I do have a problem with handouts that don't ensure the recipients are better prepared when the benefits end. Regardless of how long we provide benefits if the unemployed are no more valuable when the benefits end they will not be able to get good jobs in the future. Almost every economist predicts high unemployment numbers extending beyond the 99 weeks of maximum benefits. If the economy is not better by then should the government extend again? More importantly what are we doing as a nation to ensure these people are more valuable to the economy, the workforce and our nation so that we have the best trained people in the world?

We make it mandatory for our children to attend schools and invest money in them before they are even employable. Why would we not make it mandatory that to receive unemployment benefits the unemployed would be required to enhance their skill set. This would create new jobs, improve self-esteem and enhance the quality of workers in this country. During times of economic contraction it is critical that individuals and companies rebuild their skills and abilities to prepare for the next expansion.

The people are the greatest resource of any nation. While government benefits are necessary to help those in dire straits if it doesn't make those same people more able in the future it fails the very same group of people. It is shortsighted, impractical and irresponsible to keep throwing a life preserver to someone without finally making it mandatory that they learn how to swim.