The anticipated retirement of tens of thousands of baby boomers will create an unprecedented opportunity to move significant numbers of people into career-track jobs at family-supporting incomes. Major industries, from health care and construction to automotive repair, will soon face deep shortages of workers as a result of projected growth and boomer retirements. Fortunately, many of these jobs have relatively low barriers to entry and could be filled by out-of-work young people. To achieve this result, the city government should convene employers and educators to determine how best to create paths of upward mobility in these fields.
Which of the following, if true, most weakens the argument?
a) Immigration reform will limit the pool of available workers.
b) Government efforts have been shown to affect employment trends only rarely.
c) The best available positions require skills not possessed by the vast majority of the unemployed.
d) A small proportion of baby boomers will not retire as soon as is anticipated.
e) Many out-of-work young people are unaware of these looming employment opportunities.
We identify a weakening question. Similar to assumption questions, our task is to:
1) paraphase the conclusion;
2) summarize the evidence; and
3) identify the missing link between the two.
Once we've identified the author's assumption, we then predict an answer that attacks it.
Here, the author's conclusion is a plan to deal with an upcoming issue; plans and proposals are common GMAT conclusions. In every plan or proposal, the author is making two key assumptions:
1) the plan/proposal is practical; and
2) the stated result of the plan/proposal is desirable.
Accordingly, to weaken a plan we predict that the correct answer will do one of two things: either
1) present a reason why the plan is unlikely to succeed; or
2) provide an objection to the final result of the plan, i.e. a negative effect of the result.
Armed with those prediction, we attack the choices.
a) does limiting the pool of workers affect the plan? No, it's just another reason why we need a plan.
b) is the ineffectiveness of government efforts relevant to the plan? Yes, since the entire plan is a government effort. If (b) is true, we have a concrete reason to believe that the plan is impractical - choose (b).
On test day, we'd choose (b) and move on. Let's slip into "review mode":
c) always watch for qualifiers in choices. Do we know what proportion of all jobs fall into the category of "best available positions"? Nope, could be .0001% for all we know. Since we don't know whether (c) is relevant, it MUST be wrong.
d) similar to (c), "a small proportion" is far too weak to jeopardize the plan.
e) similar to (a), (e) is another reason why a plan is required; definitely not a weakener.