Phi Beta Cons

Austin’s Success in ‘Middle-Skill’ Jobs

A recent Wall Street Journal story focuses on the growth in “middle-skill” jobs in Austin, Texas. Rather predictably, the writer implies that the key is formal education, saying that it isn’t possible for other cities to quickly increase the educational level of their work forces, but the substance of the piece makes it clear that government policy toward education has nothing to do with it. The people who are doing all right in these jobs don’t usually have high levels of formal education, but use their basic skills in tandem with on-the-job training to improve their value. Politicians who keep thinking that we can improve overall prosperity simply by pouring more “education” — that is, college courses — into people should read this article.

George Leef is the director of research for the John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy.

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