Unlocking the Potential of Lower-wage Workers

Workforce Developments recently highlighted a new study by the National Network of Sector Partners (A coalition of social service agencies promoting sector-based approaches to workforce development and job growth, an affiliate of the Center for Community and Economic Development)  The report argues that US firms are starting to take a new, constructive approach when dealing with their low skill labor force:

A growing number of companies, large and small, are investing in a different approach [toward low-skill workers]. These companies view the lower-skill workforce as a durable asset: a means of continually improving quality and a potential talent pool for higher-level positions. In interviews with nearly five dozen American companies in 2009, with particular emphasis on manufacturing and health care, employer after employer described deliberate, sometimes multifaceted efforts to train lower-wage workers, develop skills, build loyalty and quality-consciousness, and create opportunity for wage increases. In every case, without exception, the companies recommended these same efforts to other employers — often citing measurable business benefits and bottom-line returns as evidence that these ideas are not just altruistic, but fundamentals of sound personnel management.

As the workforce ages, it is becoming more difficult to find entry level workers of any skill level.  Thus, companies are finding it in their interest to hold onto and cultivate the good workers they do find.  It has the potential to create a virtuous circle of upskilling jobs and preparing workers for such higher-quality and (one hopes) higher-paying jobs.

You can download the full report here.

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