What would it really mean to prepare for the jobs of tomorrow?

Banks-Salwowski-Wraparound-Cover.jpgPictured: job of tomorrow?

PressProgress has published a skeptical view about the Liberals’ plans for the economy of the future, pointing out significant gaps in a strategy based largely on training and skills development. I’m skeptical about some of the proposals in the CLC document they link to, but I agree with the basic idea. In principle, there’s nothing wrong with pursuing a high-flexibility approach (including a lot of “job churn”) to economic development. This approach comes with certain hazards for workers’ prospects, but so does the opposite approach. In both cases, the hazards can be managed with the help of government policy. In my view, the problem is not that the government wants to follow a high-flexibility approach, it’s that they’re failing to pursue policies that would effectively manage the hazards that come with that approach. In addition to job training programs, such policies would include expanding the scope of public insurance programs into areas normally covered by employer-linked benefit packages, an income security program that protects against income shocks following transition between jobs (not just during unemployment), enhanced wage subsidies, a higher minimum wage, providing low-cost public housing to ease the difficulty of relocation, accessible childcare, and guaranteed employment on the government payroll. Without measures like these, the government’s claim to be preparing workers for the jobs of tomorrow is not credible.

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