I had one of those AH-HA moments the other day that led to a question. The question is: “Why don’t we do something about it?
Let me give you the list of precipitating facts and see if you can figure out a better answer.
- 15% of the workforce is under/unemployed in the U.S. (some say it’s much higher)
- More than half of U.S. employers said they were having trouble filling job openings because they couldn’t find qualified workers.
- Silicon Valley and other technology application centers have unfilled job openings and are recruiting in other countries.
- In the U.S., there is a major shortage of electricians, plumbers & medical technicians
- A majority of undergraduates are liberal arts recipients with many unemployed
- Advanced degrees in math & science by foreign-born students is significantly greater than American-born students, by a very large margin
- There are unfilled jobs for $80,000 a year oilfield jobs workers in North Dakota
- In past recessions, companies hired workers in anticipation of the upturn.
Now, companies want to see the upward demand before hiring employees.
- Companies can identify their specific needs faster than people can develop their specific skills to match the job, causing a skills mismatch
- When companies know exactly what they need and when, they are looking for skills or experiences that comes the closest, not generic knowledge that requires training
- A Master Plumber will earn four times the income as a waiter who has a history degree
- Companies are looking for applicants that can improve performance or productivity, not someone who needs training to be effective two years from now
In order to develop an answer to the question, one needs to figure out the issues.
I see the issues as follows:
- The supply of qualified people is overabundant in some fields and undersupplied in others. The compensation in fields of demand will rise when the supply is scarce.
- Americans shy away from the hard sciences and prefer the easy courses for a degree
- The momentum of the past (to take liberal arts programs and let the company give you the training) is not working. The reality is to get an earlier jump on the opportunities.
- Maybe everyone shouldn’t be a college graduate, especially in a field where there is no demand. An educated employee at $10 an hour doesn’t make much sense.
- Hiring too many non-U.S. born employees will become counterproductive in the long run if Americans cannot produce a qualified workforce to fill the vacancies
- Yes, America is the land of opportunity, but maybe less so for unprepared Americans.
Let me know your thoughts.
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