I recently read, with interest, Amy Goldstein’s book Janesville.
Goldstein revealed the workforce’s culture, opportunity and ultimate cost of the shutdown. She also dwelled quite a bit on Congressman Paul Ryan and Governor Scott Walker, with a bit on his predecessor, Jim Doyle.
If I have one criticism, it is Goldstein’s heavy emphasis on the politicians is, in my view an error.
Workers Attend Blackhawk Technical College For Retraining
Goldstein: In this country, the notion of what to do when jobs go away often is, ‘Go back to school to learn to do something else.’ It’s just a very popular idea. So almost 2,000 people in Janesville went to Blackhawk Tech in the couple years after all this work went away.
The question of what is success, I thought, was a very interesting question as I was getting to know people in town, because, as I said, many people who went to Blackhawk didn’t finish what they were studying for a whole lot of reasons.
Either financial reasons or because they found that being a student, they weren’t cut out to do that. But even people who (were cut out for it) sometimes found that they just couldn’t find a decent job in what they had been studying.
… Blackhawk Tech tried very, very hard with their students.
I mean, they set up all kinds of programs to try to make it easier for factory workers to turn themselves into students, but I think it’s a hard situation when you don’t always have enough jobs of the right kind or enough jobs at all on the other end.
I don’t think it is an indictment of retraining programs broadly, but I think it does suggest that in a community that’s still having a hard time pulling enough jobs into itself, that retraining alone can’t solve everything.