Wednesday, August 31, 2011

52% of companies cannot find qualified workers

Fox News ran this piece three times yesterday. Companies belly aching that they just cannot fill job openings for lack of qualified people. The scene shows an ultra modern light manufacturing facility, brand new Butler building, tiled floor, suspended ceiling, rows and rows of sleek modern machines, mostly electronic. And they cannot hire anyone checked out on all this stuff.
Sounds like Fox was talking to someone in HR. The HR droids think they control hiring, but they don't. They know zip about the company business, the manufacturing technology, or any thing else. They ask for qualifications that nobody will have, like 5 years experience on a technology that has only been on the market for 6 months. Or two masters degrees and 20 years experience. When they fail to find candidates with impossible qualifications at entry level wages, they blame the public schools. They sold the Fox newsies on this fairy tale.
In the real world, companies have to train up their employees. Hire guys right of of high school as apprentices, and train them up to be journeymen. Treat them right so that they stay with you rather than joining your competitor after they learn the trade. If the public schools have taught them reading, writing, and rithmetic, plus perhaps algebra, they are doing OK. For extra credit the schools could give them high school physics, chemistry, and biology. The decent public high schools can do this right now. Industry needs to do it's own training in specific technology on the job.

1 comment:

DCE said...

I covered this subject on my blog, but with a somewhat different take. I know our biggest issue has been "credentialed, not educated" - they have the schooling, but they didn't necessarily learn anything. I've interviewed a number of candidates with impressive credentials who were incapable of designing simple power supplies or amplifier circuits.

One of my new co-workers made an observation that was quite insightful, at least in regards to our company: "Most of the people working here have been here for 10, 15, 20 years. There's a synergy that doesn't exist with companies where people flit in and out every couple of years." One of the most common factors I've seen with many of our candidates is that they never spent more than a few years (usually less the 3) with any one employer. Were they merely gaining some experience in a certain area before moving on, or was it that they didn't really fit in? If I had to guess, for many of them it was the latter, not the former.