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Chapter 7 An Agenda for Moving Up the New Economy • Ill Investment in workers and in worker advancement systems is only one element ofseveral necessary strategies ifthe overall objective is an economy that pays decent wages and allows opportunities for people to move up as they acquire more experience and skills. This concluding chapter examines the evidence accumulated throughout the book with regard to the three framing questions raised in chapter 1: 1. What does it take for career-ladder strategies to succeed at the immediate task of getting particular workers on a path to earnings growth and career advancement? The programs presented in this book offer many examples of the best or the most promising practice. They also confirm the assumption that the reorganization of work is as critical a function of career-ladder programs as the provision of training. Unless a workplace is organized to accommodate career mobility, programs can do no more than just place people in jobs. Thus, where workplaces are not already structured for mobility, careerladder programs must transform them. And for that to succeed, employers must not merely be the recipients ofadvice and services; instead, they must play as strong a role in career-ladder programs as do training organizations or workforce intermediaries. Sometimes employers assume that role as a matter of enlightened selfinterest , and the chief task of the career-ladder programs in this regard is to provide the enlightenment. At other times, regulatory or trade union pressures, or the carrot of government subsidies, must be brought to bear, and the key task of career-ladder programs is to lobby for it. The evidence indicates that some types ofworkforce intermediary are better at these tasks than others. The efficacy of any one type also varies in different industries and occupations. AN AGENDA FOR MOVING UP IN THE NEW ECONOMY 183 2. Even ifindividual programs are successful, how much of a difference can the career-ladder strategy make? My investigations suggest that the presence or absence of complementary regulatory, macro-economic, and demand-side policies are a crucial determinant of the strategy's impact even at the local level. For example, a relatively tight local labor market gives workers and advocates of worker advancement a measure of bargaining power, and, in most cases, that appears to be necessary in order to influence employer decisions concerning the structure of the workplace. A tight national labor market, anchored in a full-employment policy, would be all the more empowering. Further, in some industries wage regulation or wage-setting leverage from public payers is necessary to assure that career-ladder advancement actually produces rewards in pay. The willingness of employers to restructure work can also be affected greatly by public policies. As we have seen, government worker training subsidies, if used strategically, can induce employers to provide pathways for advancement. Community colleges are also a form of public subsidy. Again, these public dollars can be used in a scattershot fashion in the hope that better-educated workers will necessarily be better-paid workers. Or community colleges can embark on deliberate partnerships aimed at producing career ladders. For instance, in North Carolina and California community-college training for positions in the bio-technology industry is part of a deliberate state government strategy to provide workers for manufacturing jobs, and to create career opportunities. In addition, public policies are required to protect the right to form trade unions, which in turn advocate for training, advancement systems, and better wages. Finally, the level of funding for government job-training programs and the design ofthose programs \vill greatly affect the impact of a career-ladder strategy. But even with complementary public policies in place, how much can be expected of career-ladder programs, and how many eggs, finally, should we put in this basket? These are questions that must not be ducked. And from the evidence of the programs in this book, it is clear that we need much better data before we can answer them. 3· How can the government job-training system and the public education system more effectively promote career advancement? The present system of government job-training and worker-education programs supports career advancement only marginally. If we believe that workers can benefit immensely from lifelong career opportunities in order to advance-and the individual stories in this book confirm my belief that they can-then the present job-training system must be explicitly aligned CHAPTER 7 with career-ladder strategies. How to accomplish that, how much...


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