A study released by an Iowa think-tank finds the state spends five times as much on business incentives as it spends on upgrading worker skills. The executive director of the Child and Family Policy Center, Charles Bruner, says the state government spends 437-Million dollars a year on business grants and tax incentives but less than 80-Million on programs designed to improve the skills of their employees. The recommendation, he says, is to focus on adult worker development.
He asks “What can we do to expand the skills of who we know is going to form the bulk of the workforce for the next 20 years?” Bruner says the result is to create a widening income gap between high-school graduates…and college graduates. The current investments in business incentives “really dwarf what we’re investing in workforce skills development.” Bruner doesn’t dispute that we need jobs that pay high wages and are high-skilled — but he says we need a high-skilled workforce able to take those jobs.
Bruner says the state government’s primary role in economic development should be to educate the workforce, not to subsidize businesses.
Bruner says there are very few education and training programs that are focused at that population. Bruner says there are other ways to help those workers besides retraining.