Auto workers retool — or exit middle class

Tesla took over the NUMMI auto plant in California, but isn’t hiring many laid-off workers. New manufacturing jobs require technical training and skills that old-style factory workers don’t have. Some are retraining, but many don’t have the reading and math skills to retool themselves.

In Britain, would-be rock stars can earn a two-year degree in heavy metal music.

Tech college adds work ethic to transcripts

A Missouri technical college evaluates job readiness, work ethic and attendance, in addition to academic performance to help graduates find jobs. Employers had complained that many new hires lack a strong work ethic.

The auto industry is hiring again, but only wants workers with high-tech “cross skills” and “soft skills,” says an industry analyst.

Angels, demons, teachers and auto workers

In response to the discussion in the Blaming teachers post, Greg Forster writes AFT and UAW – More Alike Than You’d Think on Jay P. Greene’s Blog.

I think the real problem is not that school reformers demonize teachers but that defenders of the government school monopoly angelize them. When we reformers insist that teachers should be treated as, you know, human beings, who respond to incentives and all that, rather than as some sort of perfect angelic beings who would never ever allow things like absolute job protection to affect their performance, it drives people like (AFT head Randi) Weingarten and (New York Times columnist Bob) Herbert nuts.

“Teachers’ unions have pushed up costs  dramatically” in the past 40 years, Forster writes.  Public school costs have doubled, after inflation, primarily because unions pushed schools to hire more teachers relative to student enrollment.

It’s true that high salaries aren’t the main issue in schools, although teacher salaries are in fact surprisingly high. The disconnect between teacher pay and teacher performance is much more important. But the UAW has the same problem! Their pay scales don’t reward performance, either.

Incentives matter for skilled blue-collar and white-collar workers, he argues.  The auto industry has been hurt badly by “union work rules – including poor performance due to absolute job protection, pay scales that don’t reward performance, and rigid job descriptions that make process modernization impossible.”

That does sound familiar.