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Working Papers

"The Education and Training Nexus: Employers' Use of Academic Screens and the Provision of New-Hire Training"
Robert Zemsky, Daniel Shapiro, Barbara Gelhard, and Maria Iannozzi
EQW Working Papers #38
January 1996
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Using data from the EQW National Employer Survey, this study explores the savings and/or costs associated with employers' decisions to use (or not to use) school measures—grades, teacher recommendations, and school reputation—to screen job applicants. The preliminary analysis yielded three principal findings: establishments that use school measures to screen applicants have workforces with lower turnover during the first year of employment; within the manufacturing sector, establishments that use school measures to screen applicants provide more training to new workers; and it is the same set of establishments that uses school measures to screen job applicants, that invests in the initial training of employees, provides tuition benefits, reports increased skill requirements for jobs, and is more likely to have non-managers and non-supervisors using computers.

 

"The Education and Training Nexus: Employers' Use of Academic Screens and the Provision of New-Hire Training"
Robert Zemsky, Daniel Shapiro, Barbara Gelhard, and Maria Iannozzi
EQW Working Papers #38
January 1996
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Continuation of Working Paper 38, Part 2

 

"The Education and Training Nexus: Employers' Use of Academic Screens and the Provision of New-Hire Training"
Robert Zemsky, Daniel Shapiro, Barbara Gelhard, and Maria Iannozzi
EQW Working Papers #38
January 1996
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Continuation of Working Paper 38, Part 3

 

"Cohort Differences in Japanese Wage Profiles: Evidence from Quasi-Panel Data"
Masako Kurosawa
EQW Working Papers #37
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Offered as a cross-cultural comparison, this study re-examines the extent of wage growth with seniority in the Japanese labor market. The study finds that, among workers of young cohorts, there is a strong positive correlation between tenure and fixed effect that induces upward bias in the cross-sectional estimates of tenure effect. Among older cohorts, however, there is continuous retraining and adverse employment adjustment in the form of early retirement and reduced wage growth. These findings are consistent with the rapid economic growth experienced in Japan.

 

"A New Approach to Research on Public School District Performance: The 'Employment Relations' Model"
Steven Currall
EQW Working Papers #36
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This paper presents a new model of public school district performance by examining the "employment relations" system within a school district—the policies, practices, and actions that govern relations between a district and its teachers. The model posits that the performance of public school districts, measured as the student pass rate on a standardized test of academic competence and the student dropout rate, is propelled by the quality of employment relations. After describing the results of this analysis, Professor Currall discusses implications for education reform and how administrators should manage employment relations to enhance school district performance.

 

Beyond the Incidence of Training: Evidence from a National Employer Survey
Lisa Lynch and Sandra Black
EQW Working Papers #35
May 1996
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This paper investigates how school and post-school training investments are linked to workplace practices and outcomes in both the manufacturing and non-manufacturing sectors. The authors go beyond the simple measurement of the incidence of formal and informal training to examine the determinants of the types of training offered by employers, the relationship between formal schooling and employer-provided training, the links between investment in physical and human capital, and the impact that human capital investments have on the productivity of establishments. Among the findings reported in this paper, the authors demonstrate how increased productivity is positively associated with investments in human capital and how employers who hire better-educated workers experience appreciably higher levels of productivity.

 

"Beyond the Incidence of Training: Evidence from a National Employer Survey"
Lisa Lynch and Sandra Black
EQW Working Papers #35
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Expanding the analysis reported in WP34, this paper investigates how school and post-school training investments are linked to workplace practices and outcomes in both the manufacturing and non-manufacturing sectors. Using data from the EQW National Employer Survey, the authors go beyond the simple measurement of the incidence of formal and informal training to examine the determinants of the types of training offered by employers, the relationship between formal schooling and employer-provided training, the links between investment in physical and human capital, and the impact that human capital investments have on the productivity of establishments. Among the findings reported in this paper, the authors demonstrate how increased productivity is positively associated with investments in human capital and how employers who hire better educated workers experience appreciably higher levels of productivity.

 

"Employer-Provided Training in the Manufacturing Sector: First Results from the United States"
Lisa M. Lynch and Sandra E. Black
EQW Working Papers #34
January 1996
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Although the empirical literature on the impact of human capital on wages is well-developed, relatively little work explores the impact of human capital on a firm's level of productivity. This paper helps to fill that gap by using data from the EQW National Employer Survey (EQW-NES) to determine a connection between workplace practices and productivity. After describing how the EQW-NES differs from other national surveys of employers, the authors report the results of their analysis: there is considerable variation in the incidence of training by size and industry; employers who make large investments in physical capital, who hire workers with higher educational levels, and who have adopted high-performance work systems are more likely to train their workers; and there are discernible payoffs to education and certain types of training in the manufacturing sector.

 

"Schools and Labor Market Outcomes"
David L. Crawford, Amy W. Johnson and Anita A. Summers
EQW Working Papers #33
January 1995
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This paper reports on already existing evidence, and on the results of an original econometric analysis, of one aspect of the relationship between schooling and economic competitiveness: the effects of various characteristics of the schooling experience (real measurements of human capital investment) on the labor market performance of those schooled. The study asks the fundamental question: Do differences in schooling produce differences in labor productivity that are reflected in wage differentials? In particular, the authors examine the school characteristics and job successes of students who enter the labor force directly from high school.

 

"Schools and Labor Market Outcomes"
David L. Crawford, Amy W. Johnson, and Anita A. Summers
EQW Working Papers #33
January 1995
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Continuation of Working Paper 33

 

"Skill Demands, Changing Work Organization, and Performance"
Peter Cappelli and Nikolai Rogovsky
EQW Working Papers #32
January 1995
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There have been few attempts to test the propositions driving the debate concerning the contribution of workplace skills to economic performance. This paper uses the first empirical examination of the general workplace skills designated by the Secretary's Commission on Achieving Necessary Skills (SCANS) to conclude: that the most important negative effects on job performance come from deficits in academic or "Foundation" skills; that performance is actually improved, in contrast, when workers believe that their academic skills are being stretched (short of a deficit); and that employee participation and other practices associated with "high performance work" systems do not appear to demand higher skills from workers, but instead require more, enriched individual tasks that demand a higher number of skills from employees.

 

"Skill Demands, Changing Work Organization, and Performance"
Peter Cappelli and Nikolai Rogovsky
EQW Working Papers #32
January 1995
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Continuation of Working Paper #32

 

"Training and the Growth of Wage Inequality"
Jill M. Constantine and David Neumark
EQW Working Papers #31
January 1994
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Shifts in the incidence of various types of training over the 1980s favored more educated, more experienced workers. In conjunction with the fact that training is associated with higher wages, this paper examines whether training may have contributed to the growth of the wage inequality that occurred during this period.

 

Training and the Growth of Wage Inequality
Jill W. Constantine and David Neumark
EQW Working Papers #31
January 1994
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Continuation of Working Paper #31

 

"Job Stability in the United States"
Francis X. Diehold, David Neumark, and Daniel Polsky
EQW Working Papers #30
January 1994
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Discussions of changes in the wage distribution that occurred during the 1980s have gained considerable attention, but little has been paid to the issue of job duration since 1982. This paper fills this void by examining the temporal evolution of job retention rates in U.S. labor markets, using data assembled from the sequence of Current Population Survey job tenure supplements. In contrast to the distribution of wages, which clearly changed in the 1980s, the authors find that job retention rates have remained stable.

 

"Toward an Emic Understanding of Professionalism among Technical Workers"
Bonalyn J. Nelsen and Stephen R. Barley
EQW Working Papers #29
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In recent decades a new sociology of the professions has emerged, focusing on the acquisition, exercise, and loss of occupational power. The authors argue that such a structural approach necessitates a closer look at the distinction between etic (abstract perspective) and emic (understanding behavior through the native's frame of reference) analyses of social phenomena. In the past, sociologists have favored etic analysis, but the authors believe that an examination of professionalism from an emic perspective would reveal important information. In this paper, Dr. Barley and Ms. Nelsen present an emic analysis of professionalism among four technical occupations, which were examined previously in ethnographic studies (see above). After describing the notions underlying technicians' talk of professionalism, the authors show that, for technical workers, "being professional" hinges not on their occupations' resemblance to a structural ideal-type, but rather on the successful performance and validation of various behaviors. The authors then use this analysis to describe the implications of an emic analysis of professionalism.

 

"School Lessons, Work Lessons: Recruiting and Sustaining Employer Involvement in School-to-Work Programs"
Irene Lynn and Joan Wills
EQW Working Papers #28
January 1994
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Little is known about employer motivation (or lack of motivation) to participate in existing work-based learning programs. The framework proposed for creating school-to-work transition systems features a work-based learning component, which will vary in design but will require in all cases the active participation of employers. EQW and the Institute for Educational Leadership proposed to contribute to the body of knowledge in this field by providing insight on employer participation in long-standing employer-school partnerships. Consisting of a literature review, in-person surveys of school personnel and employers, a phone survey of a larger sample of employers, and the conducting of employer focus groups, this study revealed a great deal of information about employers and their involvement in work-based learning programs: how programs are organized and administered, how employers are recruited and students selected, how work-based learning is structured, what attitudes surround employer involvement, and why many employers don't participate.

 

"The School-to-Work Transition of High School and Community College Vocational program Completers: 1990-1992"
David W. Stevens
EQW Working Papers #27
January 1994
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For more than half a century, accountability for vocational education programs has been on the nation's agenda. This paper, prepared in part for the National Assessment of Vocational Education, seeks to advance the understanding of one important aspect of such accountability: early employment earnings outcomes for former students in high school and postsecondary vocational education. Professor Stevens documents employment and earnings profiles through the end of 1992 for former students in four statesóColorado, Florida, Missouri, and Washington. The data were acquired from state education agencies and unemployment security agencies in all four states, which maintain statewide data information systems. The findings presented in this paper reflect a pervasive strength in the nation's public vocational education systems.

 

"The School-to-Work Transition of High School and Community College Vocational program Completers: 1990-1992"
David W. Stevens
EQW Working Papers #27
January 1994
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Continuation of Working Paper 27 Part 2

 

"The School-to-Work Transition of High School and Community College Vocational program Completers: 1990-1992"
David W. Stevens
EQW Working Papers #27
January 1994
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Continuation of Working Paper 27, Part 3

 

"The School-to-Work Transition of High School and Community College Vocational program Completers: 1990-1992"
David W. Stevens
EQW Working Papers #27
January 1994
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Continuation of Working Paper 27, Part 4

 

"The School-to-Work Transition of High School and Community College Vocational program Completers: 1990-1992"
David W. Stevens
EQW Working Papers #27
January 1994
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Continuation of Working Paper 27, Part 5

 

"The School-to-Work Transition of High School and Community College Vocational program Completers: 1990-1992"
David W. Stevens
EQW Working Papers #27
January 1994
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Continuation of Working Paper 27, Part 6

 

"Will Military Reduction Create Shortages of Trained Personnel and Harm the Career Prospects of American Youth?"
Stephen R. Barley
EQW Working Papers #26
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Although the military does not serve society primarily as an educational institution, many Americans now view military service as a springboard to careers in the civilian economy—and, since the American economy and the military are deeply entwined, a reduction in military spending promises to create social and economic difficulties. If military training does prepare individuals for civilian jobs, then reductions in personnel may constrict the availability of trained individuals in the labor market, just as firms begin to realize that they require a higher skilled workforce. This paper seeks to inform the debate on military reductions by examining the evidence for returns to military service in the civilian economy. Its objective is to identify the dynamics that enable veterans to do better in the civilian economy and the groups of veterans who benefit most from military service. Dr. Barley concludes by considering policy options that are consistent with the evidence on the civilian effects of military service.

 

"The Military: Purveyor of Fine Skills and Comportment for a Few Good Men"
Janice H. Laurence
EQW Working Papers #25
January 1994
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The military, according to Assistant Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness Edwin Dorn, is the largest educational and training institution in the U.S.—and perhaps the world. It has been suggested that the initiation of military downsizing will, therefore, have implications for the civilian workforce. In her paper, Dr. Laurence provides information that is key to understanding how the military drawdown will affect the civilian labor market. Dr. Laurence begins by describing the occupational structure of the military and comparing entry-level positions for military and civilian occupations; she follows with a discussion of the military's workforce diversity, educational opportunities, and ability to impart comportment skills. The paper concludes with a commentary on the downsizing itself, in particular how the training and job opportunities provided by the armed forces will now be available, literally, to only "a few good men."

 

"Public Investments in Training: Perspectives on Macro-Level Structural Change and Micro-Level Delivery Systems"
Wayne F. Cascio
EQW Working Papers #24
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When the training enterprise is examined in its entirety—in terms of the training provided by federal, state, and local governments, educational institutions, and private-sector businesses—it is clear that issues can be addressed from at least two perspectives. At the structural level, representing macro-level concerns, one can examine issues such as the aggregate expenditure by various providers of training, the degree of cooperation among providers, incentives for providing training, and the economic impact of training. At the micro-level, examination of the following issues is possible: what types of training seem to yield positive outcomes; how to identify whether training is necessary and, if so, what type of training best fits the needs that have been identified; how to structure the delivery of training programs; and how to evaluate the outcomes of training efforts. The purpose of this paper is twofold: to discuss several structural issues at the macro-level; and to illustrate how lessons found in personnel psychology literature might lead to improvements in the design, delivery, and evaluation of training systems. Before discussing these two issues, however, Dr. Cascio opens with a description of current trends in training.

 

"Documenting Training Effectiveness in Terms of Worker Performance and Adaptability"
Wayne F. Cascio
EQW Working Papers #23
January 1994
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Training to create a skilled, adaptable, and innovative workforce for a more flexible work environment will be an essential tool for corporations to compete in the 21st Century. As both economic conditions and technological developments shift rapidly, the ability to adapt to these changes becomes the essence of future competitiveness—and although individual adaptability will be determined partially by cognitive ability, worker adaptability can be honed through training. In this paper, Dr. Cascio addresses the question of training effectiveness by summarizing findings from a literature review of three academic journals in the field of personnel psychology. The aim of his research is to identify empirical studies that focus on training effectiveness and to document the various components of the training process, which in turn contributes to implementing effective training programs.

 

"Documenting Training Effectiveness in Terms of Worker Performance and Adaptability"
Wayne F. Cascio
EQW Working Papers #23
January 1994
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Continuation of Working Paper #23

 

"What Employer's Want: Employer Perspectives on Youth, the Youth Labor Market, and Prospectives for a National System of Youth Apprenticeships"
Robert Zemsky
EQW Working Papers #22
January 1994
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In 1993, EQW conducted a series of studies and analyses focusing on the youth labor market. The studies collectively indicated how difficult the transition from school-to-work has become: the time between the conclusion of schooling and the obtaining of a good job is getting longer; the link between formal schooling and work is becoming more tenuous; and in today's economic climate employers in general, and small firms in particular, are likely to be skeptical of any policy initiative designed to encourage the hiring and training of young workers. This last conclusion was drawn principally from EQW focus groups with both large and small employers in eight communities—Atlanta; Portland; Cleveland; Eugene, OR; Indianapolis; Ithaca, NY; Phoenix; and Pittsburgh—conducted as part of the Center's studies designed to test directly the feasibility of a national system of youth apprenticeships. In his paper, Dr. Zemsky summarizes and analyzes the responses of participating employers to youth employment in general and youth apprenticeships in particular and offers several recommendations for ways to involve businesses in such an initiative.

 

"Higher Education and the Changing Nature of the American Workforce—Responses, Challenges, and Opportunities"
Robert Zemsky and Penney Oedel
EQW Working Papers #21
January 1994
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Technology and international competition have transformed the business practices and employment patterns most Americans once took for granted. The demise of mass production and advent of customized manufacturing, the downsizing and dismantling of corporate giants, the evolution of new service industries and occupations are all the trends that are changing the lives of American workers, constraining their ability to move from school to work, to acquire and upgrade skills, and to find and keep good jobs. These trends will also increasingly shape postsecondary education in the U.S. by making the competition for good jobs tougher, by increasing the value of educational credentials, and by intensifying the vocational cast of higher education. In their paper, Dr. Zemsky and Ms. Oedel begin by describing current labor market trends: the shift toward service-sector employment, the emergence of small firms as employers, labor market churning, and the rise of technical crafts. The authors then discuss the implications of these trends for higher education in terms of the importance of the college credential, job-related skills training, and higher education's efforts to adapt to changing enrollment pools.

 

"Measuring a Mirage: Why Training Numbers Don't Add Up"
Robert Zemsky and Dan Shapiro
EQW Working Papers #20
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As part of a set of publications that derive from EQW research on benchmarking the scale, scope, and content of work-related training, this paper uses the EQW DATABOOKS—"A Crosswalk of National Data Sets Focusing on Worker Training" and both volumes of its statistical companions (see below)—to analyze why national surveys yield results that differ widely in their estimates of who received training and why. The purpose of this essay is to attempt to explain why these estimates of training have proved to be so variable and, in that sense, unreliable. The paper presents several hypotheses: that the surveys were flawed by inherent linguistic problems; that both the nature and definition of training itself is "slippery," making a consistent measurement impossible; or that job-related training is reported inconsistently because receipt of this type of training is not reinforced by degrees or credentials. The paper describes the national surveys used in this study, presents the research project's approach to answering this question through linguistic and data analyses, and discusses the plausibility of the hypotheses it proposes.

 

"British Lessons for School-to-Work Transition Policy in the U.S."
Peter Cappelli
EQW Working Papers #19
January 1993
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Over the past decade, Britain has attempted to develop German-style youth apprenticeships through its Youth Training Scheme (YTS) initiative. Dr. Cappelli believes that the most important lesson YTS offers the U.S. concerns the role that employers must play in work-based learning programs and the need to create incentives so that employer actions do not conflict with the overall goals of a program. Dr. Cappelli begins by describing in detail the structure of the YTS and the contemporary British experience with this program in terms of participation rates, substitution effects, skills learned, job obtainment, and changing of employer behavior. After offering an analysis of the YTS experience, Dr. Cappelli provides suggestions for an alternative model for the U.S.

 

"British Lessons for School-to-Work Transition Policy in the U.S."
Peter Cappelli
EQW Working Papers #19
January 1993
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Over the past decade, Britain has attempted to develop German-style youth apprenticeships through its Youth Training Scheme (YTS) initiative. Dr. Cappelli believes that the most important lesson YTS offers the U.S. concerns the role that employers must play in work-based learning programs and the need to create incentives so that employer actions do not conflict with the overall goals of a program. Part 2

 

"Distinctive Human Resources Are the Core Competencies of Firms"
Peter Cappelli and Anne Crocker-Hefter
EQW Working Papers #18
January 1993
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The popular literature in business frequently offers models of the best management techniques, particularly for managing employees. The current interest in identifying "best practices" through benchmarking extends the argument that the best management practices are readily identifiable and transferable across organizations: find a firm with a reputation for excellence in some function, copy their practices, and the result is excellent service. At the same time, however, explanations for what makes firms competitive are increasingly turning to the notion of "core competencies" that are unique to firms. The search for unique competencies seems to run counter to suggestions that firms should adopt similar practices or copy those of competitors. In this paper, the authors illustrate examples in virtually every industry of highly successful firms that have very distinct management practices. Using firms such as Sears, Chubb, Federal Express, Coca Cola, and Pepsi, they argue that their distinctive human resource practices help to create unique competencies that differentiate products and services and, in turn, drive the competencies of these firms.

 

"What Do Technicians Do?"
Stephen R. Barley
EQW Working Papers #17
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In lieu of detailed information on technicians' work, educators and policymakers have little choice but to rely on common-sense notions of what technicians do—and these notions sometimes prove to be misleading. For example, the educational and policy literature routinely portrays technicians as "junior professionals" whose work requires a less rigorous, more "applied" version of the formal knowledge of a professional specialty. Conceptualizing technicians as "junior professionals" misrepresents the technician's role, and the paper offers two reasons why this categorization carries unwarranted connotations. The discussion begins with the nature of the technician's role, moves to the type of knowledge that technicians command, and ends by presenting implications for the education of technicians. Overall, this paper summarizes several preliminary observations to be considered by those charged with formulating educational policies and programs.

 

"Strain and the Organizational Scientist: A Cultural Explanation"
Stacia E. Zabusky
EQW Working Papers #16
January 1993
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Using staff scientists at the Space Science Department of the European Space Agency (ESA) as examples, Dr. Zabusky's paper addresses, in general, the dynamics of "liminality" and "boundary spanning" in organizations and, in particular, the reasons why scientists at ESA do not respond to attempts to meet their professional expectations with a corresponding loyalty. After describing the organization, including a discussion of method and an outlining of the various policies and structures that ESA has adopted to foster a professional atmosphere for its staff scientists, this paper examines the question of how staff scientists construct their identity. The analysis is focused primarily on the everyday discourse of the participants but also draws on written materials, in part to emphasize the institutionalization of a view that ESA scientists are an unusual sort of employee. Particular attention is paid to how a consciousness of difference manifests ethnographically as an emphasis on "specialness." The paper also suggests why organizations may benefit by fostering liminality in employees who play critical mediating roles, rather than being overly concerned with their loyalty and searching for ways to integrate them absolutely into the organization.

 

"Strain and the Organizational Scientist: A Cultural Explanation"
Stacia E. Zabusky
EQW Working Papers #16
January 1993
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Continuation of Working Paper #16, Part 2

 

"Strain and the Organizational Scientist: A Cultural Explanation"
Stacia E. Zabusky
EQW Working Papers #16
January 1993
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Continuation of Working Paper #16, Part 3

 

"What Do We Know About How Schools Affect the Labor Market Performance of Their Students?"
Amy W. Johnson and Anita A. Summers
EQW Working Papers #15
January 1993
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In this paper, Ms. Johnson and Professor Summers explore the possibility that a causal relationship exists between the quality of American primary and secondary schools and the quality of its workforce. In more specific terms, the authors set out to determine whether direct linkages exist between the measurable characteristics of the learning process and success in the labor market. The value of this kind of study is reinforced by the policy implications of potential findings, particularly the informed allocation of educational resources at the local and state levels and determination of the appropriate role of the federal government in the delivery of education as a promotion of the national good. The authors conducted a thorough review of the empirical literature and identified over 200 studies that linked school characteristics and labor market performance. By imposing criteria relevant to their specific study, the authors reduced this number to 17 studies, which they document extensively in the paper's tables and appendices.

 

"What Do We Know About How Schools Affect the Labor Market Performance of Their Students?"
Amy W. Johnson and Anita A. Summers
EQW Working Papers #15
January 1993
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Continuation of Working Paper #15, Part 2

 

"What Do We Know About How Schools Affect the Labor Market Performance of Their Students?"
Amy W. Johnson and Anita A. Summers
EQW Working Papers #15
January 1993
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Continuation of Working Paper #15, Part 3

 

"Youth Apprenticeships and School-to-Work Transition: Current Knowledge and Legislative Strategy"
Robert Zemsky and Maria Iannozzi
EQW Working Papers #14
January 1993
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The notion of the school-to-work transition has generated a great deal of discussion in political arenas and in the American media. While there is broad-ranging concern that a growing proportion of American youth lack a grounding in the fundamental educational and social skills needed to enter and advance in the workforce, policymakers still lack a comprehensive sense of many issues that involve youth employment: when or where the failure to connect with work can occur; what the apparent instability of youth employment—or, "churning"—actually signifies; and what type of system on what scale is needed to facilitate this transition, particularly in terms of youth apprenticeships. The paper is divided into two sections. The first, Part I, contains an analysis of the current state of knowledge concerning the youth labor market; an identification of the problems in this market, which youth apprenticeship programs are intended to address; a discussion of program design issues for youth apprenticeships; and a presentation of key legislative issues. Part II consists of summary accounts of the material presented at an EQW conference, "Youth Employment Policy," organized by Professor Osterman. The outcomes of this conference, which included recommendations for planning a national system of youth apprenticeships, directly informed the discussion contained in Part I of this paper.

 

"Youth Apprenticeships and School-to-Work Transition: Current Knowledge and Legislative Strategy"
Robert Zemsky and Maria Iannozzi
EQW Working Papers #14
January 1993
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Continuation of Working Paper #14

 

"Framing the Questions: A First Look at the Japanese Labor Market"
Robert Zemsky, Masako Kurosawa, and Jere R. Behrman
EQW Working Papers #13
January 1993
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Increasingly, the analysis of comparative economic advantage has come to center on the relative quality of national workforces. This paper frames a comparative study of the interaction between local labor and education markets in both Japan and the United States, with a general focus on skill acquisition and utilization. In this first set of "Descriptive Notes" to emerge from the Comparative Labor Market Study, the authors outline the basic conditions and circumstances of the labor markets across Japan, drawing many of the examples from the market of the industrial center of Kitakyushu City. Future products from the Comparative Labor Market Study will include analyses of each American and Japanese labor market in terms of wage tenure profiles, industrial structure, school matching, school-to-work transition, and changing patterns of family investment. The five American cities to be examined are Allentown, Atlanta, Cleveland, Phoenix, and Portland.

 

"Framing the Questions: A First Look at the Japanese Labor Market"
Robert Zemsky, Masako Kurosawa, and Jere R. Behrman
EQW Working Papers #13
January 1993
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Continuation of Working Paper #13

 

"Button Pushers and Ribbon Cutters: Observations on Skill and Practice in a Hospital Laboratory and Their Implications for the Shortage of Skilled Technicians"
Mario Scarselletta
EQW Working Papers #12
January 1993
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Employers and policymakers have traditionally sought to manage skill shortages in technical as well as other occupations through initiatives predicated on one of two broad definitions of skill: skill-as-input or skill-as-artifact. Scarselletta broadens the definition of skill by considering another perspective, skill-in-practice, which views it not as an entity but as a process largely encoded by the day-to-day articulation of workers' shared understanding of "good practice." As an example of how a practice-oriented approach to skill might shed light on the nature of skill shortages and lead to more effective policy, this paper considers the case of recent attempts to address the growing demand for medical technicians and technologists.

 

"In the Backrooms of Science: The Work of Technicians in Science Labs"
Stephen R. Barley and Beth A. Bechky
EQW Working Papers #11
January 1993
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Continuation of Working Paper #11

 

"In the Backrooms of Science: The Work of Technicians in Science Labs"
Stephen R. Barley and Beth A. Bechky
EQW Working Papers #11
January 1993
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In both academe and industry, science proceeds in settings that employ as many as several hundred people, and in order to produce work in a timely fashion, most labs have adopted a division of labor stratified by occupation, status, skill, and knowledge. Unlike the credentialed scientist, it is the technician who actually presides over science's encounters with the physical world by maintaining materials, operating instruments, and conducting experiments. Although sociologists have amassed considerable knowledge about professional work, next to nothing is known about the social organization of technicians' jobs. As the work of a science technician is prototypical of the expanding technical workforce, this paper offers an analysis of how technicians' work is more generally structured through the observation of science technicans in several laboratories.

 

"Behind Standard Employment Relationships: The Character and Determinants of Rick-Involved Teams, Altered-Time Arrangements, and the Contracting-In of Retirees"
Peter D. Sherer and Kyungmook Lee
EQW Working Papers #10
January 1992
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Dr. Sherer's paper describes and analyzes three human resource arrangements that vary from the standard employment relationship: risk-involved teams, which are characterized by risk pay, employee involvement, and horizontal control in teams rather than by standard fixed salaries, top-down delineation of duties, and hierarchical control; altered-time arrangements in which organizations alter work schedules from the standard five-day, forty-hour, year-round, fixed-work arrangement; and the contracting-in of retirees as consultants. Dr. Sherer's results indicate that firms make greater use of these alternative human resource arrangements when they seek to acquire and develop labor efficiently and when demographics favor their use. His results also show that firms shifting their business strategy to develop distinctive or core competencies utilize these arrangements as ways to mobilize, focus, and leverage their human assets.

 

"Behind Standard Employment Relationships: The Character and Determinants of Rick-Involved Teams, Altered-Time Arrangements, and the Contracting-In of Retirees"
Peter D. Sherer and Kyungmook Lee
EQW Working Papers #10
January 1992
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Continuation of Working Paper #10

 

"College and the Workplace: How Should We Assess Student Performance?"
Peter Cappelli
EQW Working Papers #9
January 1992
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This paper examines how the development of innovative student assessment procedures can strengthen the link between education and the workplace. A great deal of evidence indicates that student grades are not good predictors of job performance: employers do not rely on grades when making hiring decisions and, therefore, students' incentives to achieve high grades may be diminished. Industry selection procedures that are particularly relevant to college education include ability tests, biodata, and work samples. An examination of these procedures in this paper reveals ways in which assessment of college performance can be improved, specifically by expanding the information provided on students' transcripts. This paper also includes a comparison of the most widely used job analysis systems and reveals a number of general skills that are required for most entry-level jobs. Changes in instruction to incorporate the teaching of these essential job skills are straightforward and can be accommodated within existing curricula.

 

"Practice Makes perfect: Emergency Medical Technicians and the Social Negotiation of a Skilled Occupational Identity"
Bonalyn J. Nelsen and Stephen R. Barley
EQW Working Papers #8
January 1992
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Most recent data indicate that the spread of microelectronics has resulted in a predominant trend of upgrading skills and a strong secondary trend toward less skilled jobs. This paper examines how an occupation acquires a reputation for skill, shedding light on the predicament of defining recently upskilled or nascent occupations to enable the redeployment of workers from declining to expanding lines of work. The authors researched the work of emergency medical technicians (EMTs), viewing this occupation as a paradigm of many new lines of work because of its combined service and technological components. They argue that to understand how and why paid EMTs are acquiring a reputation for greater skill requires treating "cultural understandings, institutional supports, tasks, and competencies as resources whose meanings and utility are discovered in the course of ongoing interaction." The authors conclude by discussing the concept of interactionism, which bridges realism and constructionism, as a way to understand how occupations acquire reputations for skill.

 

"Practice Makes Perfect: Emergency Medical Technicians and the Social Negotiation of a Skilled Occupational Identity"
Bonalyn J. Nelsen and Stephen R. Barley
EQW Working Papers #8
January 1992
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Continuation of Working Paper 8, Part 2

 

"Practice Makes Perfect: Emergency Medical Technicians and the Social Negotiation of a Skilled Occupational Identity"
Bonalyn J. Nelsen and Stephen R. Barley
EQW Working Papers #8
January 1992
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Continuation of Working Paper 8, Part 3

 

"A Program of Research on the Role of Employer Training in Ameliorating Skill shortages and Enhancing Productivity and Competitiveness"
John Bishop
EQW Working Papers #7
January 1993
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This paper addresses skill shortages and employer-provided training in terms of public policy, by reviewing issues such as: how skill differentials across countries and firms affect productivity and quality; how employer training has evolved; how much training American workers receive relative to their overseas counterparts; whether most U.S. employers and workers underinvest in on-the-job training; and how on-the-job training compares with school-provided training.

 

"A Program of Research on the Role of Employer Training in Ameliorating Skill Shortages and Enhancing Productivity and Competitiveness"
John Bishop
EQW Working Papers #7
January 1993
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Continuation of Working Paper 7, Part 2

 

"A Program of Research on the Role of Employer Training in Ameliorating Skill Shortages and Enhancing Productivity and Competitiveness"
John Bishop
EQW Working Papers #7
January 1993
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Continuation of Working Paper 7, Part 3

 

"Building a World-Class Front-Line Workforce: the Need for Occupational Skill Standards in State Workforce Preparation Programs"
Robert G. Sheets
EQW Working Papers #6
January 1992
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A companion piece to the "State Options and Strategies for Labor Market Investments: Unpacking the Political Cliche" conference on state workforce initiatives, this paper contends that a national and state system of occupational skill standards must be created so that businesses can exceed the productivity and quality levels of other countries. This system of standardized skills is necessary to restructure the workforce at its roots—adult vocational education and job training programs. The author suggests that occupational skill standards can serve as the foundation of state workforce preparation programs that coordinate public and private training investment through market-based delivery systems.

 

"Building a World-Class Front-Line Workforce: the Need for Occupational Skill Standards in State Workforce Preparation Programs"
Robert G. Sheets
EQW Working Papers #6
January 1992
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Continuation of Working Paper #6

 

"The New Craft: The Rise of the Technical Labor Force and its Implication for the Organization of Work"
Stephen R. Barley
EQW Working Papers #5
January 1992
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Continuation of Working Paper #5

 

"The New Craft: The Rise of the Technical Labor Force and its Implication for the Organization of Work"
Stephen R. Barley
EQW Working Papers #5
January 1992
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This paper examines the perception in the United States of the existence of an under-skilled workforce and the common assumption that this skill deficiency is due solely to a failure of American schools. The paper considers the possibility that the escalating need for skilled labor may indicate not just a deficiency in the American education system but a fundamental, unanticipated change in the division of labor. Thus, strategies to better prepare workers for the demands of future jobs should involve more than just a focus on improving education. The paper highlights changes that seem to have contributed to this perceived crisis of preparedness and speculates on their potential implications for the workplace. The author identifies technical workers as the segment of the workforce most clearly associated with changes in the division of labor. He proposes that most technical occupations can be conceptualized as "new crafts" and outlines a program of research to study the new technological labor force.

 

"Competitive Strategies of States: A Life-Cycle Perspective"
Patricia Flynn
EQW Working Papers #4
January 1992
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A companion piece to the "State Options and Strategies for Labor Market Investments: Unpacking the Political Clich»" conference on state workforce initiatives, Dr. Flynn's paper proposes a life-cycle model for analyzing the symbiotic relationship between human resources and industrial and technological change. The life-cycle framework recognizes that the dynamic nature of products, production procedures, and technologies necessitates the continual evolution of skill and training requirements. States using this model to develop workforce competitiveness strategies will find that technology increases employment and productivity rates. States that fail to employ this model increase their vulnerability to the negative impacts of technological change, including unemployment. The paper uses the life-cycle model to assist states in the development of programs designed to recruit firms, create high-tech jobs, and establish competitiveness strategies.

 

"Competitive Strategies of States: A Life-Cycle Perspective",
Patricia Flynn
EQW Working Papers #4
January 1992
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Continuation of Working Paper #4

 

"Are Skill Requirements Rising? Evidence from Production and Clerical Jobs"
Peter Cappelli
EQW Working Papers #3
January 1992
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This paper examines change in skill requirements in production and clerical jobs between 1978 and 1988. The data suggest that significant upskilling has occurred within production jobs because the economy is tending toward higher-skill jobs. However, an equal number of clerical jobs were upskilled and deskilled, largely because clerical work has been dominated by office technologies that produce job-specific skill changes. The changes in production jobs have been fueled by evolving mangement-employee relations across all job families—new management views regarding the redesign of jobs as well as the decline of union power. These factors had little effect on the changes in the skill levels of clerical jobs, however, the introduction of new technologies exhibited the largest influence on both the upskilling and deskilling of clerical jobs because new clerical equipment (word processors and personal computers) differed across job functions that are performed autonomously in separate labor markets. The upskilling of manufacturing and some clerical jobs indicates an increase in the demand for skill.

 

"Advancing Adult Workforce Skills: Opportunities and Requirements for State Action"
David Stevens
EQW Working Papers #2
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This paper, presented as part of a conference entitled "State Options and Strategies for Labor Market Investments: Unpacking the Political Clich»," scrutinizes the patterns of state initiatives designed to affect adult workforce competitiveness. Because states' economic and workforce circumstances and intentions are different, the applicability of "one-size-fits-all" solutions regarding adult workforce needs is limited. This paper also presents state-level strategies to advance adult workforce skills to produce a climate conducive to the successful conduct of business. Dr. Stevens' specific recommendations for states are: (1) use existing administrative data systems to investigate state labor market dynamics; (2) determine institutional capacities to respond to adult workforce needs; (3) investigate the use of an occupational database cataloging employer requirements and individuals' skill attributes to diagnose the dynamics of state economies; (4) encourage reciprocity from organizations and individuals receiving benefits from the state; (5) investigate the consequences of competency certification; (6) solicit Department of Defense funds for adult workforce renewal.

 

"Is the 'Skill Gap' Really about Attitudes?"
Peter Cappelli
EQW Working Papers #1
January 1992
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This paper examines the significance of work attitudes as job qualifications and the possible role of public policy in developing good work attitudes in students. In the mid-1980s, the common perception was that workers did not have the basic educational skills necessary to handle new work systems and technologies. More recent evidence argues that the key problem may not be this "academic skills gap" but rather the attitudes concerning work that new workforce entrants bring with them to their jobs. Some of the questions explored in this paper include whether and to what degree public policy should be responsible for the development of work attitudes; which attitudes are important for the workplace; how to go about changing these attitudes; and whether they should be taught in schools.