The American problem is not getting workers educated or trained

Sunday, February 6, 2011; 8:12 PM

Michael A. Fletcher's reporting on the bitter irony facing the Fresno, Calif., workforce - an achingly high unemployment rate coexisting with a panoply of unfilled job openings for skilled workers [front page, Feb. 2] - said as much, if not more, about the need for comprehensive immigration reform as it did about the need for worker training.

The fact is that under even the rosiest scenarios, bringing workers up to speed takes time. Time that an overseas competitor can use to put American companies out of business. The article added to the overwhelming body of evidence that the correlation between hiring immigrant workers and taking American jobs is a false one. The truth is that the law as it stands offers companies two choices: Move the jobs overseas to where the workers are, or shutter the doors. In either case, American workers lose.

Jim Alexander, Washington

The writer is an immigration attorney.


Why does Fresno have thousands of job openings and high unemployment? Fresno has enough people, just not enough people with the right skills - the skills needed to fill the health and technology jobs generated by the economy.

Michael A. Fletcher described the problem succinctly as a "skills mismatch," and to an extent it is. It is the mismatch that results from America losing valuable ground to other nations in the percentage of people with college degrees. Nearly 40 percent of the students who enter a bachelor's-degree program each year in the United States will never graduate. This leaves us short of qualified people ready to fill key jobs in emerging sectors.

Fresno is but a painful symptom of America's higher-education illness.

Alan Tripp, San Francisco

The writer is chief executive of InsideTrack, which works with colleges to improve graduation and retention rates.

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