Related BLS programs | Related articles
October 1993, Vol. 116, No. 10
Job-related education and training: their impact on earnings
In the 1980's and early 1990's, a long-term decline in real average earnings of many U.S. workers, a trade deficit, and reductions in manufacturing employment growth became public concerns. The notion was bandied about that both education and job training would have to be strengthened in order for the United States to improve the economic status of its workers, as well as its competitive position in the global marketplace. The following excerpts from published sources are illustrative of official concern about the situation:
The quality of the U.S. workforce matters now more than ever. Well-trained, motivated workers who can produce high quality goods and services at low cost help enhance industrial productivity and competitiveness and keep American living standards high. In today's international economy, workers must be prepared to change the way they do their jobs in order to capture the benefits from rapidly evolving technology. Training goes hand-in hand with productivity, quality, flexibility, and automation in the best performing firms.1
Our nation is facing a major crisis in education, one larger and more significant than was realized even a few short years ago . . . .
What is required are far more Americans who can understand mathematical and scientific principles and can apply them to everyday problems on the factory floor and in the executive suite. What is required are far more Americans who can read and understand complex technical material and use that knowledge to perform new tasks. What is required are more Americans who can work in teams to identify and solve problems without relying on direct supervision or rigid rules. What is required are far more Americans who can converse in foreign languages and be cognizant of events beyond our borders. What is required are for more Americans who can live and work effectively with people from diverse cultures and backgrounds.2
Although essentially policy statements, these excerpts reflect an uneasiness about the state of U.S education and argue consistently for improving worker education and training. However, some general views expounded on the relationship of education to earnings and on how to improve our education and job training systems have raised anomalies. For example, if the Nation has lost ground to international competitors during the past decade, why have post secondary institutional training in 2-year and bachelor's degree programs in the United States expanded significantly and educational attainment risen during that decade? In addition, will improving the reading, mathematics, and communication skills of our secondary school students ensure that they subsequently enjoy increased earnings? This article attempts to assess the data pertinent to these questions and other closely related subjects.
This excerpt is from an article published in the October 1993 issue of the Monthly Labor Review. The full text of the article is available in Adobe Acrobat's Portable Document Format (PDF). See How to view a PDF file for more information.
Read abstract Download full text in PDF (1130K)
1 Workers Training: Competing in the New International Economy, Report No. OTA-ITE-457 (Office of Technology Assessment, September 1990), p. 3.
2 Report of the Task Force on Education, Educating America, State Strategies for Achieving the National Education Goals (Washington, National Governors' Association, 1990), p. 7.
Within Monthly Labor Review Online:
Welcome | Current Issue | Index | Subscribe | Archives
Exit Monthly Labor Review Online:
BLS Home | Publications & Research Papers