The United States has always been a generous country. According to the Census Bureau every year we give Billions to third world countries…and some not so third world. When asked about foreign aid to countries first thoughts of many will go to the assistance in Haiti after its devastating earthquake or helping with the AIDS epidemic in part of Africa. These are good and noble programs and few would argue their benefit to these developing countries.
But what many don’t realize is the USAid program also uses government funding to educate the people. At first glance this seems like a reasonable plan. We are building schools in places like Afghanistan so that women can be empowered to care for their own needs. But, recent information brings to light programs designed to teach English so that people are able to work in Call Centers overseas for American businesses. In essence, the United States Government is outsourcing training programs that may keep its own citizens from finding jobs.
In this time of continued high unemployment one might question whether taxpayer funds should be used to teach others outside the U.S. job skills that, if taught in this country, might put our own citizens to work. Some people might argue that these call center jobs are not high skill, nor high paying. However, these entry levels jobs could greatly help the minority teen (age 16-24) unemployment. In March, 2012 Hispanic teen unemployment was 30.5% while blacks were even more abysmal at 40.5%. Our own citizens need training for jobs.
The United States Government program Job Enabling English Proficiency (JEEP) has come under recent scrutiny by Congress. At a training program in Manilla, Philippines over 11,000 students are enrolled in the JEEP program sponsored by the U.S. While President Obama promotes insourcing of jobs there is concern by some in Congress that the JEEP programs training of foreign workers will take American jobs. In a bipartisan letter “Congressmen Tim Bishop (D-NY) and Walter Jones (R-NC) have demanded that the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) immediately suspend a program to train workers in the Philippines for jobs in English-speaking call centers…” “The U.S. has lost five hundred thousand call center jobs in the last five years,” said Representative Bishop in an interview with Information Week.”
As the United States continues to struggle economically does it make sense that taxpayer funding is used to promote jobs outside the country? Can we afford to send jobs away when our own unemployment remains high? Contact Representatives Bishop and Jones or your own Representative and remind him of the need for jobs here at home.