Smart companies are fighting the labor squeeze by raising workers' skills, not just wages. A new Coopers & Lybrand survey of fast-growing companies finds more than half have launched new training initiatives in the past two years--42% with internal programs and 36% using outside courses. The federal government is encouraging the trend with tax incentives. Workers can receive up to $5,250 in compensation, tax-free, for undergrad studies or graduate courses that are job-related. Last year's tax act extended the benefit to courses starting by June 1, 2000. Survey respondents cited a wide variety of educational needs. Problem-solving (31%) and computer and technical skills (21%) topped the list. Twelve percent say that even basic math and reading skills are wanting.

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