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August 14, 2000


A recent report by a University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) professor showed that workers receiving regular, frequent job training reaped long-term earnings benefits of 10 to 25 percent higher salaries than their untrained peers over time. The report also found that a significant portion of workers were either shut out of, or unable to engage in such training.

Dave Marcotte, Assistant Professor in the Policy Sciences Graduate Program at UMBC, compared the experiences of two groups of young men as they left school and entered the workforce in a report published in the July issue of Cornell University's Industrial and Labor Relations Review.

The first group of the 3,000 men studied entered the labor market in the late 1960s and the second group started working in the early 1980s. For each group, participation in job training once employed resulted in substantial earnings gains - about 10% over and above comparable peers with no additional training.

Contrary to conventional wisdom, the study showed that training did not need to be lengthy to result in big earnings gains. Short training courses resulted in wage gains as large as longer courses.

“What really mattered was frequent training,” said Marcotte. “Workers who engaged in training on multiple occasions, throughout their careers, earned in excess of 25% more than their peers.”

While Marcotte's study found that continued, frequent training resulted in substantial benefits for workers, it also concluded that workers lacking post-secondary education were increasingly left out. “Among workers who entered the labor market in the late 1960s, training received by high school graduates was more valuable than that received by the college educated,” said Marcotte. “By the time the next group entered the labor market in the 1980s, high school educated workers were substantially less likely to get training, and the value of the training they received fell.”

The report suggests this shift reflects declines in opportunities like apprenticeship programs that benefit workers with high school diplomas, and the growing importance of skills for which formal schooling provides a foundation, to be built on by subsequent training.

Marcotte's data source was the National Longitudinal Surveys (NLS), a collection of surveys conducted by Ohio State University, and paid for by the U.S. Department of Labor. Marcotte studied data on a group of young men who were 14-24 years old in 1966 and a second group of men aged 14-21 in 1979. In both cases, the same men were interviewed, more or less annually for 15 years as they left school, established careers and started families.

Survey respondents were regularly asked whether they engaged in any training courses or educational programs in the years following their entry into the labor market. These questions asked about training and education that were not a part of their regular schooling - such as full time enrollment in degree programs, etc. The study included many types of learning in its definition of training such as on-the-job, vocational/technical institute classes, and union apprenticeship programs. Military training was not counted as part of the study.

Contact information:

Dave Marcotte
UMBC Policy Sciences Graduate Program

Posted by dwinds1 at August 14, 2000 12:00 AM