President Obama again implored Congress on Monday to pass his $447-billion jobs plan, which calls for, among other things, hiring more construction workers, teachers and police officers.
The plan also sets aside $8 billion to pay employers up to $4,000 to hire workers who have been unemployed for six months or more. The incentive is similar to that proposed by the president for companies that hire unemployed veterans.
Jena McGregor at The Washington Post, however, questions whether such an incentive will have any effect at all in higher-paying fields in business and technology. She writes:
In manufacturing or construction jobs where skills are more standardized, the credit could have a real impact. But in many professional jobs, I doubt it will. For one, $4,000 likely isn't enough to sway many companies to hire a manager or engineer they don't think is the absolute best person for the job. With talent increasingly becoming a competitive advantage, the cost of hiring the wrong sales executive or operations supervisor for a job over the long term is much higher than $4,000. In addition, the premise of the idea asks corporate leaders to fight years of ingrained nervousness about hiring the unemployed.
My colleague Don Tennant wrote about the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission investigation into employment ads that essentially state "the unemployed need not apply." At the same time, unemployment in IT is far lower than in the overall economy - the latest numbers I've seen for IT put it at 3.7 percent, compared with 9.1 percent overall - so there would be fewer job candidates who would fall in this category.
Meanwhile, FINS quotes Eric Berridge, CEO of the recruiting firm Bluewolf, saying the real problem with Obama's plan is that it fails to address the mismatch in skills and the jobs available. Berridge is quoted saying: "What was lacking were specifics around training people in the skillsets that are in huge demand in the economy right now."
Although Obama has talked about training more engineers and workers in advanced manufacturing, the details of those programs aren't clear.