Fed's Harker: Worker Training Is Investment in Economy -Update
By Eric Morath
AUSTIN, Texas -- Training workers and placing them in jobs should be viewed as an investment in the future of the economy, not a cost to be borne by taxpayers and charities, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia President Patrick Harker said Thursday.
Mr. Harker unveiled a Fed report on workforce-development strategies during a speech here Thursday morning.
In an interview before the speech, he said businesses, governments, nonprofits and schools need to rethink how they view training programs aimed at preparing the unemployed and underemployed for in-demand jobs.
"We need to stop thinking of workforce development as a social service," Mr. Harker said. "And start thinking of it as investment for your business, your community and the country."
Improving workforce development is consistent with the Fed's mandate to maximize employment, he said. Better training and placement systems will improve the well-being of low-income and less-educated workers by allowing them to find better-paying employment. And moving those Americans into more productive jobs will help employers address a shortage of workers with needed skills -- ranging from welders to medical technicians.
The ultimate result is a more robust economy, Mr. Harker said.
"We cannot afford as an economy, given how tight the labor market is right now, to leave anybody on the sidelines," he said, "if we want the kind of growth we've come to expect in this country -- more than 2%."
In his speech, Mr. Harker said the economy is "essentially at the point of maximum employment...if you want a job, you can get one relatively easily."