Assessing Clinton's Program on Job Training, Workfare, and Education in the Workplace

James Heckman

NBER Working Paper No. 4428
Issued in August 1993
NBER Program(s):Labor Studies

The Clinton administration has made job training and skill upgrading a major priority. Secretary of Labor Robert Reich has already presented a bold program for skill enhancement drawing on a new consensus in certain circles of the social science and policy communities about the need to upgrade the nation's skills. An apparently new approach to training and education has been proposed and Secretary Reich is now busy selling it to the Congress and the Nation. This paper provides background on the problems in the labor market that motivate the new Clinton-Reich initiatives on training and schooling. It briefly summarizes the proposed strategies and the background philosophy for the Clinton-Reich agenda. It then considers the evidence that supports or contradicts assumptions of their plan. There is a lot of evidence about many of the 'new' proposals because some are reworked versions of old programs that have been carefully evaluated. Other proposals borrow ideas from Germany. I compare the rhetoric that accompanies these proposals in the context of the U.S. labor market. Still other proposals have been evaluated in demonstration projects but the lessons from these evaluations have not yet influenced administration thinking. This is unfortunate because many current plans are based on assumptions that have been discredited in careful empirical studies. This research has not yet caught the attention of the policy makers in Washington.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w4428

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