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Human Capital

Page history last edited by Mike 8 years, 1 month ago



The dynamism of the American workforce is our country’s greatest renewable natural resource. Jump-starting economic growth therefore requires that American workers have the skills that are needed to unleash their potential. One of the troubling features of the American economy today is the mismatch between the skill set of the American workforce and the requirements of the employment market. The gap between the two lies at the heart of our jobs crisis.

Over two centuries American workers have repeatedly proven themselves to be the most productive and the most capable at adapting themselves to changing economic conditions and embracing new technologies that come on stream. During that time, the American economy has also been the beneficiary of the extraordinary contributions made by the best and the brightest from around the world who have chosen to make our country their new home. This combination has propelled the American economy to heights envied across the world. It can do so again.


President Obama’s approach to human capital is, here as elsewhere, to let government take the lead. The federal government has been pouring money into retraining programs. In fiscal year 2009, the sum total was $18 billion for 47 separate employment and job training programs administered by nine different federal agencies. Seven of the 47 programs account for three-fourths of the spending, but all except 3 of the 47 programs overlap with at least one other program.

Only 5 of the 47 programs have had their results thoroughly evaluated since 2004. According to the General Accounting Office (GAO), “little is known about the effectiveness of most programs.” It also turns out that the little we do know has not been particularly heartening. A 2008 study found that one of the five, the Workforce Investment Act Adult and Dislocated Workers program, produced only “small to nonexistent” results.

This is the kind of government waste, political horse-trading, and administrative chaos that has brought discredit on the federal government. We cannot afford to squander taxpayer money in this way. President Obama’s job retraining record is a live, ongoing demonstration of why federal spending in so many areas needs to be scaled back.


Mitt Romney sees two important objectives that America can pursue immediately to build on the extraordinary traditional strengths of its workforce. The first is to retrain American workers to ensure that they have the education and skills to match the jobs of today’s economy. The second is to attract the best and the brightest from around the world.

Retraining Workers

Mitt Romney will approach retraining policy with a conservative mindset that recognizes it as an area where the federal government is particularly ill-equipped to succeed. Retraining efforts must be founded upon a partnership that brings together the states and the private sector. The sprawling federal network of redundant bureaucracies should be dismantled and the funds used for better purposes. One particularly promising approach that Romney supports and believes states should be encouraged to pursue is a system of Personal Reemployment Accounts for unemployed individuals. These accounts would facilitate programs that place individuals directly into companies that provide on-the-job training—as governor of Massachusetts, Romney helped create just such a program.

  •   • Eliminate redundancy in federal retraining programs by consolidating programs and funding streams, centering as much activity as possible in a single agency
  •   • Give states authority to manage retraining programs by block granting federal funds
  •   • Facilitate the creation of Personal Reemployment Accounts
  •   • Encourage greater private sector involvement in retraining programs

Attracting the Best and the Brightest

To ensure that America continues to lead the world in innovation and economic dynamism, a Romney administration would press for an immigration policy designed to maximize America’s economic potential. The United States needs to attract and retain job creators from wherever they come. Foreign-born residents with advanced degrees start companies, create jobs, and drive innovation at an especially high rate. While lawful immigrants comprise about 8 percent of the population, immigrants start 16 percent of our top-performing, high-technology companies, hold the position of CEO or lead engineer in 25 percent of high-tech firms, and produce over 25 percent of all patent applications filed from the United States.

  •   • Raise visa caps for highly skilled workers
  •   • Grant permanent residency to eligible graduates with advanced degrees in math, science, and engineering


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