Athough the nation's employers spend about $30 billion a year on training, entry-level workers and those without a college degree often are not given the opportunity to participate in employer-based training programs.
"Employers are training their top end but the bottom-end workers need training as well," said Curtis E. Plott, executive vice president of the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD).
According the society's data, about 10 percent of the work force benefits from employer-paid training programs. Most often, those employees are the skilled workers or those with a college education.
"It's not that college-educated workers don't need training, it's just that all employees need the training," Plott said.
About 2,000 ASTD members are meeting at the Baltimore Convention Center for the society's annual conference, which is scheduled to conclude tomorrow.
The ASTD represents more than 55,000 managers, administrators, practitioners, educators and researchers who design and deliver training and development programs for employers.
According to the society's data, about 10 percent of the work force benefits from employer-paid training programs. Most often, those employees are the skilled workers or those with a college education.
Plott said the ASTD is launching a national campaign to encourage employers to make training a priority.
In conjunction with the conference, the state announced a campaign to better market its employee-training programs and increase the amount of training that Maryland's 2.5 million workers receive.
Audrey S. Theis, executive director of the state's Office of Employment Training, said without adequate training businesses locally as well as nationally are going to be left with an unbalanced work force. At one end will be a large number of workers without the technical skills needed in an age of high technology. At the other end will be highly skilled workers, overly prepared for entry and mid-level jobs.
"There is a skills gap. . . and we need to narrow that gap," Theis said.
To do that, Theis said, the state plans to tap 200 workers from various state and local agencies and create a network of employees. They will contact businesses, offer to assess their training needs, and refer them to state-run programs or other types of training services.
"Maryland already has many good services in place to help businesses as they strive to be more competitive and to help individuals get the training they need to be world-class workers," said J. Randall Evans, secretary of the state's department of Economic and Employment Development.
"But what we all need is to do business differently to better bring together the services with the people and the businesses."