There’s still time to read ILR Review‘s Symposium on Skill Shortages and Mismatches for free! Are the complaints over the supply of education-related skills in the U.S. labor force warranted? Is skill mismatch delaying the United States economy’s return to health? Is vocational education actually effective at facilitating transitions into employment? These questions are explored in the Symposium.
From the introduction to the issue:
In recent years, some employers, researchers, and policymakers have raised concerns about a shortage of skilled workers in the United States. In some instances, the supposed shortage takes the form of poor literacy and numeracy skills among young people making the transition from school to work. In other cases, employers have complained about an insufficient supply of technically trained workers, while policymakers have voiced concerns about a dearth of students pursuing science, technology, and mathematics (STEM) fields. Related to possible shortages at the aggregate level is the potential problem of mismatches between the skills workers have and those demanded by firms. These concerns, if valid, have important implications for macroeconomic policy as well as for the long-run standard of living of U.S. workers.
On macroeconomics, some policymakers have suggested that the run-up in unemployment and the increase in long-term unemployment associated with the Great Recession were caused by an increasing degree of mismatch between the skills demanded by firms and those supplied by workers. This mismatch is one source of what is commonly known as structural unemployment and can in principle be remedied by increasing workers’ skills or by improving the labor market matching process. If much of the unemployment we have seen since 2008 is indeed structural, then there may be limits on the potential effectiveness of traditional fiscal and monetary policies for alleviating unemployment. Instead, investment in worker skills or in streamlining employment transitions (e.g., through increased geographic mobility or better information about jobs and worker skills) would be needed. Concerning the living standards of workers, if there is indeed a shortage of skilled workers, then investment in skills may have long-run payoffs that more than justify the cost of the investments and may raise living standards. Moreover, if there is substantial mismatch between workers’ skills and employers’ demands, then investment in the matching process may help the labor market work more efficiently. If, however, skill shortages and mismatches are not so important empirically, then there may be considerable scope for expansionary monetary and fiscal policies as tools to combat joblessness.
You can read the Symposium on Skill Shortages and Mismatches from ILR Review for free for the next 30 days. Click here to view the Table of Contents. Like what you read? Click here to sign up for e-alerts and have notifications of all the latest research from ILR Review sent directly to your inbox!