Work Force Is Ill Prepared, Conferees Say

From United Press International

Members of Congress and the Bush Administration, agreeing "human capital is the key to our future," blamed themselves and one another today for failing to prepare the U.S. work force for the next century.

"We in the Administration and Congress are a bunch of dumbbells," said Rep. James H. Scheuer (D-N.Y.). "The American public understands the failure of education better than we do. . . . It's about time we caught up."

Scheuer and other members of the Joint Economic Committee spoke at a hearing called "Crisis in the Workplace," where they vented frustration over the lack of federal action to close the growing gap between workers' skills and the requirements of the workplace.

"The nature of the problem has been clear for some time, and yet the solutions aren't forthcoming," said Sen. Albert Gore Jr. (D-Tenn.), who requested the hearing.

"Human capital is the key to our future and economic growth," Gore said. "It is time we get down to business."

Assistant Secretary of Labor Robert Jones agreed.

"It is not an exaggeration to state that America's economic future is imperiled by the inadequacy of the basic literacy of our workers," Jones said, noting that statistics indicate U.S. business spends nearly as much on remedial job training as the $330 billion spent annually for public education.

Jones outlined a Labor Department plan to bring business and education leaders together in the spring of 1990 to set standards for workplace readiness, but he balked at pinpointing specific actions.

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