“All that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned, and man is at last compelled to face with sober senses his real conditions of life and his relations with his kind.” -Marx, Engels The 20th century offered ordinary people the unique opportunity to dream beyond the traditional confines of family and community. These new opportunities were driven by improved job prospects, which over time produced a middle class in the United States and other industrialized nations. This transformation involved workers transitioning from crafts-based occupations, to jobs undertaking routine tasks in a factory.
In her response to Paul Krugman’s op-ed “Jobs and Skills and Zombies”, Youth Advisory Board member Kim Ouillette notes that while there is not a national skills shortage that can explain high unemployment in the US, there are some more localized, industry-specific skills gaps that can be addressed through structured training programs. However, she argues, these technical fixes should not preclude other fiscal and political changes that are more likely to get at the root of national unemployment and give more Americans access to decent work.
In this study, disadvantaged Brazilian youth participated in a year-long program that used technical skills training as the foundation for learning, while also developing the soft skills that are potentially more important for longer term success.