I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with licensing laws. The libertarian in me abhors them because they instill a level of (probably) unnecessary regulation on the free market. On the other hand, licensing is a good way to ensure that a service provider is competent in their field and often protects the consumer from (genuine or perceived) harm. Licenses are a good litmus test for the consumer to educate themselves on the quality of the service provider (An educated consumer? What a concept!), but I prefer the non-mandatory ones: the “industry certifications” that fit better into a free-market scheme.
I think the biggest thing missing from our late-stage capitalist society is the guild system: no-cost, hands-on, practical training and an embedded system of certification, accountability, and promotion for skilled labor (without the associated letters patent and rent-seeking, of course–“guild” might be a bad metaphor in practice, but the idea is there). The unions were supposed to fill that gap, but they seem to be more interested in political clout and monetary gain than sustainable growth and favorable public outreach–especially the “knowledge-based” labor unions like educators and doctors.
Young people entering the job market have always faced challenges: a lack of skills and experience, limited professional networks, unfamiliarity with workplace culture and expectations. But increasingly, they are also facing another obstacle: legal requirements that can shut off avenues to jobs before they even get the chance to apply.