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Need to Know: May 3, 2013: Retraining America

Even as unemployment remains stubbornly high, millions of jobs remain unfilled because many workers do not have the necessary training to fill them. This week, “Need to Know” correspondent Rick Karr travels to the state of Washington to report on The National STEM Consortium – a program designed to target this type of structural unemployment by improving the scientific, technical and mathematical know-how of American workers. Anchor Jeff Greenfield interviews Seth Harris, the acting Secretary of Labor.

Read the show transcript.

This week’s coverage:

Certifiably employable

One Seattle program helps workers find a new industry with science, technology, engineering and math training.

The new vocational training

Find out about training opportunities in your locale, plus explore the federal government’s new employment site.

Interview: Seth Harris

The Acting Secretary of Labor on being the Job Hunter in Chief.

Ask the experts: unemployment

We’ve asked two experts to examine the causes of American unemployment and explain how we might fix some of the issues associated with it.

American Voices: George Wentworth

George Wentworth, a senior staff attorney at the National Employment Law Project, on prejudice against the unemployed.

Explore more from our Help Wanted series:

Modern manufacturing 101

The demand for skilled labor continues to expand but the global workforce has not necessarily caught up.

Ask the experts: skills gap

We’ve asked two experts to talk about the skilled labor gap and issues surrounding the debate.

Manufacturing jobs

Need to Know looks at Alabama’s efforts to train a new generation of shipyard workers to fight unemployment and attract business to the state

Update: Self starters

In most states, jobless benefits are there to cushion the blow while you look for work. But Oregon does something different, using the benefits to encourage people to start their own businesses.

Watch more full episodes of Need to Know.

  • thumb
    Main Street: Findlay, Ohio
    Need to Know travels to Ohio to assess how workers are faring after the loss of millions of manufacturing jobs over the past 35 years.
  • thumb
    Following the money: Tax breaks
    New CBO report echoes the findings of Need to Know's "A tale or four tax returns."
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      Certifiably employable
    Rick Karr recently visited Seattle to look at a program designed to give the unemployed the skills they need to find jobs in one of the country’s fastest-growing industries.


  • elsie

    Sorry to say that I believe this program reflects the disconnect that government and other entities have when it comes to unemployment. Retraining is not all it’s cracked up to be. It is not the answer. There are highly educated, and even highly educated in technological fields who have been unemployed for a very long time and these people experience the accompanying prejudices when it comes to the interview…if they get that far.

    Those with library degrees are some of these. Not only do they have a Master’s degree in a highly technical and technological field (think CIA information analysts at the high end of this field and educators at the very least) who are being fired by school systems and replaced with clerks who can mind the books. The school systems that are doing this are those who market themselves as STEM schools who are effectively cutting out 1/2 of their tech instructors! Retraining is NOT an answer for these poor souls.

    Others who have had jobs in highly technological fields have had their jobs removed to Mexico or other cheaper markets–retraining?! NOT helpful.

    I am disappointed with the portrayal of that poor gal who had experience in a highly skilled field of non-profit who has had to “retrain” for an entry level job just to survive.

    I must apply the scenario of the Great Depression when I think of the jobs situation in the US–many highly educated people are finding that they have no option but to settle for low-level and entry level jobs to survive.

  • Anonymous

    Obscene! Obscene that PBS would calculate against the public! Obscene that of all the media complicit in activities the likes of which Noam Chomsky warned us about, PBS was the WORST offender the day this propaganda aired. Obscene that regular consumers of PBS are not flooding this site with outrage! Obscene that PBS would make this Progressive appear to be the Tea Party Libertarian I am about to appear to be. How dare NTK suggest that the Government has ANY role in paying for Boing’s job training! How dare NTK suggest that it is in ANY way the citizen’s or job seeker’s fault or responsibility that corporate welfare recipients are too DAFT to hire people for no better disqualifying reason that they have been out of work (during a DEPRESSION) for 6 months. How dare NTK FAIL to challenge, ON ITS FACE, the enslaving prospect of stealing a precious year or so of a desperate person’s life in order to “qualify” them for a microscopically specific, non-transferable job duty offered by ONE LONE employer. Who is too stupid to realize that NARROWING a person’s prospects by tying them to a SINGLE JOB DESCRIPTION skillset MIGHT NOT serve that person’s long term interests? Who is too stupid to even ASK if employers “problems” finding and keeping qualified employees MIGHT be largely self-inflected and otherwise NOT a public responsibility? Jeff Greenfield? Maybe. Maybe he’s just a patsy for empty buzzwords like “technology”, “21st century”, “future”, “partnership”, “education”, “groundbreaking” etc., ad nauseam. Or maybe he just wants to see if the public is stupid enough to believe that giving taxpayer money to an overpriced “educator” to churn out technician/hostages for employers already neck deep in corporate welfare tax dollars is a great idea. Obscene! Obscene that PBS would be the best example of the worst in media duplicity we were warned of by Noam Chomsky