Publication Date


Journal or Book Title

Journal of Planning Education and Research


In the aftermath of World War II, a gradual but steady social contract emerged between labor organizations and business. This contract included commitments by the business sector to pay a living wage to workers and their families and to provide them paid vacations, medical plans, and retirement programs. Moreover, it included commitments to skill development opportunities through on-the-job training that would position these workers for upward advancement. For the most part, this contract lasted until the 1980s, when the federal government’s resistance to passing legislation requiring fair wages, the declining power of unions, strong international competition, and increased automation coalesced to the point the contract began to erode. One of the most significant benefits affected by this erosion was company-sponsored skill development. Taking the position that the nation’s educational institutions were better suited to train entry-level workers, the business community supported efforts to shift that responsibility to universities, four-year colleges, and community colleges. They were successful in this endeavor. However, while this approach prepared the worker for the world of work, it did not, and could not, provide the skill-related training specific to a company’s needs. Moreover, it did not provide new workers the opportunity to develop their skills in the context of a company’s corporate culture. The net result has been new workers entering the workforce without the required skills, leaving both employees and employers dissatisfied.



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