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Smolarek: Skills gap doesn't account for poor jobs numbers here

June 26, 2017

A letter to the editor authored by UW-Madison’s Bailey Smolarek that takes a critical view of the so-called “skills gap” was recently published by The Capital Times.

Smolarek is an assistant researcher with the Wisconsin Center for Education Research within the School of Education. She also is an alumna of the School, having earned her Ph.D. from the No. 1-ranked Department of Curriculum and Instruction in May 2016.

Bailey Smolarek
Smolarek begins by writing: “Gov. Walker has pointed to a lack of skilled workers as the reason Wisconsin lost 3,800 manufacturing jobs last year.”

Smolarek, who has researched this topic, notes that “job loss can rarely be explained so easily” and adds that the skills gap (the gap between the skills employers need and the skills workers possess) has “already been debunked by numerous economists, who instead point to stagnated wages and a lack of quality job openings.”

Smolarek also explains how “Wisconsin has cut public education, become a right-to-work state, and kept a stagnated minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. These serious policy changes cannot be ignored. So I ask the governor and the rest of Wisconsin to stop pointing fingers at workers and start examining the policies that got us here.”

Smolarek’s entire letter to the editor is available at “Skills gap doesn't account for poor jobs numbers here”