A better job for low-wage earners

A hiring sign outside a 7-Eleven store in San Francisco. There are many low-wage earners in the United States who would love to have a real career and be able to support a family. But life gets in the way: training can cost tens of thousands of dolla
A hiring sign outside a 7-Eleven store in San Francisco. There are many low-wage earners in the United States who would love to have a real career and be able to support a family. But life gets in the way: training can cost tens of thousands of dollars. They can't take time off from work to study. They have no one to take care of the children. The car has broken down. They've lost their driver's licence. Bus fare costs too much.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Innovative approaches to helping low-wage earners get a better job first focus on brushing up on basic maths and reading skills; and offering social support such as childcare and transport to help people get to jobs on time and keep them.

The unemployment rate in the United States is 3.9 per cent. Businesses are desperate for workers. Yet at the same time, a large group of people can't find a job.

The skills people have often don't match the skills employers need. One solution is training them for a specific field: a short, intensive course that prepares students for skilled work in construction, car mechanics or hospital patient care. In New Jersey at the moment, these jobs can pay US$19 or US$20 (S$27.50) an hour to start.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on September 09, 2018, with the headline 'A better job for low-wage earners'. Print Edition | Subscribe