Job Training Key to Unemployment Crisis

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On Friday Lorine Baker will complete a 14-week course in wood-working.
CBS

In an economy struggling with the highest rate of joblessness in more than 25 years - where even highly skilled workers are being shown the door - the last thing anyone wants to hear is this:

"There is no ray of sunshine in the near term. Not in the next three to six to 12 months," said economist Mark Zandi.

Economists say that because new people enter the job market all the time the U.S. needs to add at least 125,000 to 150,000 jobs a month to keep the unemployment rate from rising - but we've been losing that number or more month after month, reports CBS News correspondent Dean Reynolds.

No need to tell that to Frank Fons.

He lost his job as a banker eight months ago and has managed just 12 interviews since.

"We're working all day long on trying to locate the next paid opportunity," Fons said.

Another problem is that while there are actually more than two and a half million job openings, many require skills the unemployed will need time to acquire.

Obama: Jobs Summit Generated Good Ideas

That's what they're trying to do at a Chicago vocational training center -- the one Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner visited in October, when he met Lorine Baker.

On Friday Baker will complete a 14-week course in wood-working.

"Wow. I can't believe I can do this. They've taught me a lot," Baker said.

But the demand for this kind of traditional manufacturing skill -- versus a more high-tech capability -- has not been growing. Nor has the need of prospective employers.

At Chicago Booth Manufacturing, which sells mostly to restaurants, orders have slowed because the company's customers can't get loans to expand.

"If they can't get that money, they can't buy our furniture," said Dave Bochniak, the company's president.

Frank Fons used to deal with those kinds of companies from his desk at the bank. Now with time on his hands he says he'll be paying attention to the president's jobs summit.

"But I'm not necessarily expecting miracles out of that," he said.

He knows there could be a long way to go.

  • Dean Reynolds
    Dean Reynolds

    Dean Reynolds is a CBS News National Correspondent based in Chicago.