American Jobs Act insufficient; more assistance urgent

Employment has lagged behind economic recovery. We need jobs and we need them now. President Obama’s recent push in Washington has been for a piece of legislation known as the American Jobs Act, a piece of legislation aimed at stimulating employment.

Although the act would be an excellent step towards reigniting the jobs market in some sectors of the economy, and will certainly benefit community colleges and small business, the act does little to nothing for four-year universities and their students. The American Jobs Act should be revised so that there is more focus on college students and private corporations contribute towards solving unemployment.

The American Jobs Act contains a number of provisions that would help ease unemployment. It cuts the payroll tax in half to 3.1 percent for employers on the first $5 million in wages. This tax break is aimed at small businesses with a limited number of employees: theoretically, this would give small businesses more cash that would be used to hire workers. The plan also contains $50 billion in immediate investments in infrastructure and $5 billion   for facilities modernization needs at community colleges. While all of these measures are sound possible approaches to addressing unemployment they do not go far enough in addressing the issue.

The American Jobs Act should be revised to offer incentives for corporations to aid students with their higher education, particularly master’s degrees and other forms of specialized training. For too long companies have relied on states and the federal government to help students get the education and training they need to join the workforce.

Pubic instructions and private institutions of education are suffering from grave financial problems while corporations sit on huge cash reserves. The largest barrier students face to receiving the training and education they need to get jobs is cost. Corporations need trained workers and have the finances to train them. It’s only natural that corporations should take a stake in their own interests.

Currently, many employers have job openings but lack qualified employees to fill these positions. According to a recent survey by Human Capital Institute and TheLadders, more than half of employers said “quality of candidates” or “availability of candidates” are their greatest challenges: despite the recession. Industries like health care, green technology and energy are having a particularly hard time filling positions that require specialized training or extensive work experience.

Corporations stand to gain from helping fund worker training and higher education. Currently corporations’ large cash reserves aren’t generating a return. By funding workers’ education and training, companies would be able to put their capital to use in a way that would make them money.

Efforts could also be made to invest in future business. Further financing of research and development would create job opportunities for educated workers in various fields and directly contribute to future cash flows.

This kind of joint effort by private and public interests is the only way that unemployment can truly be addressed. If the public sector is left to meet the burden alone employment prospects will not improve.




Filed under: Columnists Opinion Politics

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