Conversable Economist Tim Taylor presents a chart representing spending over a life time on Education and Skills in America.
“Figure 4 (depicted) is from a report by the White House Council of Economic Advisers, titled “Addressing America’s Reskilling Challenge” (July 2018). The blue area shows public education spending, which is high during K-12 years, but the average spending per person drops off during college years. After all, many people don’t attend college, and of those who do many don’t attend a public college. Private education spending shown by the red area takes off during college years, and then trails off through the 20s and 30s of an average person. By about age 40, public and private spending on education and skills training is very low. Spending on formal training by employers, shown by the gray area, does continue through most of the work-life.
The figure focuses on explicit spending, not on informal learning on the job. As the report notes: “Some estimates suggest that the value of these informal training opportunities is more than twice that of formal training.” Nonetheless, it is striking that the spending on skills and human capital is so front-loaded in life. The report cites estimates that over a working lifetime from ages 25-64, the average employer spending per person on formal training totals about $40,000.”
“Nonetheless, it is striking that the spending on skills and human capital is so front-loaded in life.”
Why is it striking?
Skills you actually use only need to be learned once.
Certainly supply chain has changed from when I first started as have manufacturing processes. Simple example; Turret lathes which were in abundance and clustered in departments several decades ago are less in demand now and replaced by CNC. Things do change and many of the Labor Force have been antiquated using their past skills.
Presumably because as the needs of society change, so do the skills needed by it’s workers and citizens. I think, however that this theory does not take into account the weight of that which needs to be learned for that retraining, nor does it take into account the increased learning ability of the adult versus the child. Like you, I see nothing remarkable in the chart at all.
I continually learned new skills throughout my career to remain current with the skills I needed to stay at the top of my profession and remain employable.
Front loading is needed, but a continual backloading is desirable for both the individual and society.
That’s because once they send your career job to China, it doesn’t cost much to teach you to flip burgers. Duh.
Even if training people to flip burgers costs a lot, it is not in the above chart.
I agree with those who say that continually learning is important, I just don’t think that the chart is very illuminating.
I would follow the link to the rest of the study/report to gain more information.