Job training is an important factor in enhancing the economic well-being of workers. Technological advances, especially with computers, have led to dramatic improvements over the past decade or so in productivity and the demand for skilled workers. There are concerns, however, that many workers will be left behind in the shift toward a more “high-tech” economy. In particular, the persistence of gender and racial differences in earnings raises concerns that some workers may not be receiving enough training to be successful in the new economy.
Along with the shift in demand for skilled workers, there has been a relatively important shift in how and where job training takes place. Historically, public policy has focused on developing training programs for workers in educational institutions and other organizations outside the workplace. Over the years these programs, especially for disadvantaged workers, proliferated and there was little coherence to the federal, and state, programs that were available. These programs have become more streamlined and coordinated through the Workforce Investment Act, which establishes regional boards to coordinate training activities.
There also has been a growing recognition that workers learn best in the their work environment. Numerous institutional innovations, such as youth apprenticeships, school-to-work programs, and others have placed much greater emphasis on experiential learning. Research on training also has focused increasingly on formal training offered by employers and the obstacles employers face in provided general training to their workforce.
In this paper I examine the willingness of employers to provide formal training to women and minorities. The analysis focuses on the role of firm, worker and job characteristics in the receipt of job training. (author)