Training Programs Help Texas' Working Poor Get Ahead
“In Texas, working poor families struggle to get ahead”
June 16, 2012
While Texas boasts one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country, the state suffers from a bigger problem, according to a package of stories in the Austin American-Statesman. The state has significantly reduced its investment in training and educational programs that help move the working class beyond the many temporary, low-wage jobs that much of the Texas workforce holds, into sustainable careers with benefits. McCombs' Bob Duvic was among the experts who commented on the problem for the story. Here are some excerpts from the main article:
Bob Duvic, distinguished lecturer in finance at the University of Texas McCombs School of Business, agrees that even a low-end job can lead to something better. But, he added, "We face a long-term problem that really has to do with education. You can train someone to drive a truck, but what if that truck goes away? Even my plumber has to know electronics now."
The state's record on education speaks for itself. Texas ranks 50th in the U.S. in the percentage of adults 25 or older who have a high school degree. For those 3 million Texans who don't, adult basic education — general education degree (GED) studies, English as a second language and literacy classes are the first step up the ladder. Yet Texas is one of only two states that spend no money on adult education beyond the minimum required to get federal funding for those programs, according to U.S. Department of Education data.
Last year the Legislature slashed funding for the state's flagship job training program, the Skills Development Fund, from $44 million to $22 million. Meanwhile, businesses everywhere are reducing their own training efforts, said UT's Duvic.
"Corporations complain they can't get qualified people, but they used to train them. Now they don't want to spend the money," he said. "It's shifting the burden of preparing people to the state."