Very interesting article on on-the-job-training (HT - Kate). They mention labor shortages, but it's a news item so I can't be too picky. The point is still on target - we have a hard time educating middle skill workers in this country, and companies are picking up the slack. This is good, simply because it provides the non-college-bound with opportunities, but it is also good because there is a greater guarantee that the education will be relevant to the job.
Of course this is no way to provide a complete skills distribution. OJT will be weighted towards firm-specific skills. What we need is a system (like apprenticeships, or entrepreneurial community college or CTE programs) that gets buy-in and participation from employers and can provide the general skills that may be less forthcoming in OJT.
You could see where this could develop a virtuous cycle. Given a set of CTE and community college graduates with the right general skills (because of cooperation with industry), firms will be willing to spend more OJT on brand new workers (who they now trust to have useful skills). Companies with strong professional development policies will attract more interest from students and schools and bolster the CTE and community college system. All of this is going to help raise wages, productivity, and reduce dropping out.