A common definition of the term “low-skilled worker” generally includes high school dropouts, high-school completers without additional education, college non-completers, previously incarcerated persons, immigrants, and veterans who joined the military right after high school. For this special issue, we seek papers that address the role of human resource managers and development professionals in providing training and development for any one or all of these groups of workers.
Many studies, beginning with A Nation at Risk and continuing with Workforce 2000 and Workforce 2020, the SCANS Report, and Tough Times, Tough Choices among others, have warned that an expanding pool of skilled workers is needed in the United States and other industrialized countries to understand, develop, and use complex technology to assure continued competitiveness in a global economy. Since industrialized countries will not be able to compete with their foreign competitors on price alone, they must compete on productivity and innovation. These studies do not deny that some low-skilled jobs will remain in demand; their warning is directed at the fact that simply maintaining prosperity is contingent upon economic growth, which is possible only with a larger and larger pool of skilled workers. As a result, these studies state, American workers, especially job entrants, need more knowledge and skills than ever before.
One of the challenges in developing this skilled talent pool has been that business and industry participation in training programs has been low, and despite calls for more employer involvement, most recommendations for workforce training still focus on public programs administered by local or state governments, non-profits, or community and technical colleges and institutes. Torraco (2007) stated that training for low-skilled job entrants should in fact be considered a human resource function, and Scully-Russ (2005) added that many organizational structures contribute to the inability of low-skilled workers to advance to better-paying, higher-skilled jobs. Ten years earlier, however, the Workforce 2020 report had asked the question of why businesses should become involved in such workforce development efforts and why training should not exclusively take place in educational institutions. The purpose of this special issue is to fill in the gap and furnish that answer.
Suitable topics include but are not limited to:
- Is human resource involvement in the training of low-skilled workers desirable?
- What role can human resource professionals play in training low-skilled workers?
- Should human resource professionals become involved in preparing low-skilled workers for entry into the workforce? Why?
- Should human resource professionals become involved in enhancing the performance and the career mobility of low-skilled workers already employed by them? Why?
- How can human resource professionals lobby their management for greater organizational involvement in and support of low-skilled worker development?
- What are the curricula, teaching methods, benefits, and successes of employer-led programs for low-skilled workers that already exist? Which role did human resource professionals play in creating these programs?
- How can human resource professionals help form partnerships between their employers and external training providers (community colleges, technology centers, non-profits, state and local programs, etc.)?
- How can human resource professionals help develop programs that benefit employers, educational institutions, and students equally?
- Which human resource training and development strategies can (and should) be applied to workforce training in educational institutions?
Draft submission deadline: 30, September, 2010
Final paper submission deadline: 30, January, 2011