I’m a bit slow on this, but I thought it was worth recognizing the efforts that Wal-Mart has made recently to invest in their workforce. From the Los Angeles Times

The company said that over the next five years it will source $20 billion from women-owned businesses in the U.S. and double its sourcing from female suppliers internationally.

It also will offer training, market access and career opportunities to 60,000 women working in factories to help them "develop the skills they need to become more active decision-makers in their jobs and for their families." 

Wal-Mart said it will help 200,000 women from low-income households gain job skills and access higher education; retail training programs also would help 200,000 women internationally. 

Certainly, it’s in businesses’ best interests to have a productive, happy workforce – and if training programs are needed, then that’s what companies will offer. But as I said on PBS’ To The Contrary a few weeks ago, when the government offers job-training programs, they fill the space that private employers would otherwise fill (why would I, as a small business, duplicate the efforts of the feds?) I think it’s quite unlikely that the training that the government would offer would square precisely with what the market needs – after all, companies will know best what gaps they have to fill – and accordingly, they are bound to waste taxpayer dollars in an otherwise well-intentioned effort. My colleague Charlotte wrote about this a few weeks ago, and it’s well worth a read. 

Get government out of the way – and let companies do what makes economic sense for them! In most instances – like with Wal-Mart – they will.