At his Wednesday press conference, President Bush was asked about the problem of technology jobs moving overseas. He identified the problem: our workers’ skills aren’t keeping pace with technological advancements. His solution: a $3000 “reemployment account” for each worker. If your job is shipped off to the third world, you’ll get $3000 to retrain, move to another city, and generally use to get back into the workforce.
So when companies like IBM, CSC, and HP close an office full of American workers earning $5000 a month and replace it with an office in India full of workers earning $800 a month, it’s not really about the money.
If you feel you can read the President’s statement verbatim without choking on bile, the full transcript of Wednesday’s press conference is available here. If you don’t want to search through the whole thing, click the “continue reading” link to just see the answer that pissed me off.
Q Thank you, Mr. President. Staying with that theme, although there are some signs of improvement in the economy, there are sectors in the work force who feel like they’re being left behind. They’re concerned about jobs going overseas, that technology is taking over jobs. And these people are finding difficulty finding work. And although you’re recommitted yourself to your tax cut policy, do you have any ideas or any plans within the administration of what you might do for these people who feel like there are fundamental changes happening in the work force and in the economy?
THE PRESIDENT: Sure. Listen, I fully understand what you’re saying. In other words, as technology races through the economy, a lot of times worker skills don’t keep up with technological change. And that’s a significant issue that we’ve got to address in the country.
I think my idea of reemployment accounts makes a lot of sense. In essence, it says that you get $3,000 from the federal government to help you with training, day care, transportation, perhaps moving to another city. And if, within a period of time, you’re able to find a job, you keep the balance as a reemployment bonus.
I know the community colleges provide a very important role in worker training, worker retraining. I look forward to working with our community colleges through the Department of Education, coordinate closely with states, particularly in those states in which technology is changing the nature of the job force.
I’ve always found the community college — and this is from my days as the governor of Texas — found the community college to be a very appropriate place for job training programs because they’re more adaptable, their curriculums are easier to change, they’re accessible. Community colleges are all over the place.
And — but you’re right. I mean, I think we need to make sure that people get the training necessary to keep up with the nature of the jobs, as jobs change.