Michael S. Bernick
|Michael S. Bernick|
|Born||October 1, 1952|
|Education||Harvard University (B.A., 1974); Oxford University (Balliol College, B. Phil. 1976); University of California, Berkeley (J.D. 1979)|
|Known for||Director of California’s Employment Development Department, 1999-2004; Author of a series of writings on employment and job training|
Michael S. Bernick (born October 1, 1952) served as Director of California’s labor department, the Employment Development Department (EDD) from 1999 to 2004. He is a practitioner and theorist of job training. In a series of articles and books written during the 1980s and 1990s, he argues against the then-expanding social welfare system, and sets out alternative strategies of inner city entrepreneurship and market-based training and job ladders. In the 2000s, his practice and writing turned to the job losses accompanying globalization and technology, and the breakdown of the traditional employer-employee structure.
Bernick grew up in Los Angeles through Fairfax High School, and attended Harvard University (B.A. 1974), Oxford University (Balliol College, B. Phil. 1976) and the University of California, Berkeley Law School (J.D. 1979).
After graduating from law school, he spent much of the next seven years as executive director of the San Francisco Renaissance Center, a community job training agency that operated a series of literacy and vocational training classes, and an early welfare to work program. In 1986 Bernick went into private law practice but remained a board member of several community job training agencies until being appointed EDD Director in 1999. Following the recall of California Governor Gray Davis, Bernick returned to law at the Sedgwick firm in San Francisco, and joined the Milken Institute as a fellow in employment policy. He continues to volunteer with several community job training agencies in the Bay Area.
Criticism of the Welfare State, and Developing Market-Oriented Job Creation and Training
In the early 1980s, Bernick began a series of articles and books on job training and employment, written from the viewpoint of the practitioner. The Dreams of Jobs (1982) reviews the job training programs in San Francisco from 1960 to 1980, and was followed a few years later by Urban Illusions (1986), covering job training experiences at the Renaissance Center.
Bernick was an early proponent of what became welfare reform under President Bill Clinton, and of market-based approaches to vocational and literacy training. He also argued for strategies of inner city entrepreneurship and inner city loan funds.
After becoming EDD Director in 1999, Bernick continued to write about training strategies, particularly job ladders for low wage workers and employment for workers with disabilities. His 2006 book, Job Training That Gets Results is an attempt to summarize lessons learned from the job training programs of the past 50 years. It contains the themes of market-oriented training and entrepreneurship, along with the professionalization of the low wage workforces, role of extra-governmental entities, and restructuring of government social services structures.
Impacts of technology and globalization on the structure of jobs
Since leaving EDD in 2004, Bernick’s writing has turned to the job losses due to technology and globalization, and to the loss of job security and rise of contingent forms of employment. In a series of California employment postings, he chronicled the large-scale job losses in California employment starting in 2007, and the transformation of California industries during the Great Recession. He has also chronicled the breakdown in job security and the emergence of forms of independent contracting, staffing, and professional employer organizations.
Transit Village Movement
In 1988 Bernick was elected to the board of directors of the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) rail system and soon began to note the lack of land development linked to rail. With UC Berkeley Professor Robert Cervero, he established a research center at UC Berkeley focused on the link of land use and transit, and together they published a series of articles leading to their 1996 book, Transit Villages in the 21st Century. The book helped to develop and popularize the transit village concept.
Veteran Bay Area investigative reporters Matier & Ross wrote in the San Francisco Chronicle in June 1996 that the newly elected BART Director Michael Bernick "accepted campaign contributions from BART contractors". And "excerpts of a federal wire tap [released in connection with indictments] showed that Bernick regularly talked to contractors about extending a deal for them at the same time they were helping to raise campaign contributions for his re-election." 
- The Dreams of Jobs (Olympus, 1982) ISBN 978-0-913420-48-5; Urban Illusions (Praeger, 1986) ISBN 978-0-275-92804-9
- “How Welfare Can Work”, Washington Monthly, Sept. 1985
- “Illiteracy and Inner City Unemployment”, Phi Delta Kappan, Jan 1986; “The Truth About Job Training Programs”, Journal of Contemporary Studies, Winter 1984.
- “Business in the Inner City”, Harvard Business Review, November–December 1984
- “The New Inner City Loan Funds”, Planning, September 1986
- “To Rise Above, Upgrading the Skills of the Under-Employed”, Milken Institute Review, 2001
- “Making Work Pay—For the Disabled Too”, Milken Institute Review, Fourth Quarter 2003
- Job Training That Gets Results: 10 Principles of Effective Employment Programs (Upjohn Institute, 2006) ISBN 978-0-88099-280-0
- “Huge Job Creation, Destruction Requires Adaptation by Employment Lawyers”, Daily Journal, August 11, 2006; “The Future of Bay Area Employment”, San Francisco Chronicle Sunday Insight, Sept. 27, 2009.
- Transit Villages in the 21st Century (McGraw Hill, 1996) ISBN 978-0-07-005475-2.