Tuesday, September 12, 2017

I Disagree Qualified Workers Are In Short Supply

Reuters News Service reports,
U.S. job openings at record high; qualified workers scarce"
"Employers need skilled labor and experienced workers are in short supply,"

Generally speaking it may be so in the medical, pharmaceutical, scientific community, electronic design industries. Overall I dispute this oft repeated mantra for several reasons. Here's why. (1) It's a matter of money-- the bottom line. For years companies have been pushing out 50 some year old "experienced" fulltime employees for a number of reasons. They can be replaced by cheaper more desperate workers. Many of them working for a 3rd party. Others part time and/or on call. Still others replaced by visiting foreign workers. As a group of employees age healthcare costs increase. So do their vested rights. Ask any person over 50 how easy it is to find a job irregardless of their experience.

(2) Companies always throw in the "experienced" tag right after skilled. Reality is we're pumping out more educated graduate students then ever before in our history. Throwing in the "experienced" line gives companies leverage over new hires. Thus instilling a fear of asking for wages they might deserve. It implies we'll take a chance on hiring you against some of the competition, but you're going to have to work really hard to prove your worth since we went out on a limb by hiring you. This tactic is much like the car salesman who says, yeah you aren't getting the best deal but if you don't take my offer I have two more lined up so you'll lose out.

(3) I have another issue with this "experience" BS. Not all, but more then plenty of companies have specialized equipment custom manufactured for the specific product they are producing. I can't speak towards all jobs, but from my own "experience" there's not a college or trade school who could teach me on the equipment I was trained to use or the processes. Because of the companies trade secrets visitors or photography was never allowed. Previous to this job I was referencing I worked in the field of electronics. If you think for one second electronics manufacturing is all the same you're very much mistaken. Without company provided training no one would be able to do any of them. Throw in the company giving me some training in software design (something I had no training in) I'd be lost. As would anyone else unless they had two or three degrees involving each.

(4) At this point many companies are exploiting employee interns as an excuse for cheap labor. More then a few of our younger workers are paying thousand$ to attend a institute of higher learning. These educational schools then force require some of their attendees to intern before they allow students to earn their degrees. The advantage to companies should be obvious. In some cases (not all) these fine institutes of higher learning are compensated. The deal is many of these students are agreeing to intern hoping it will buy them some leverage to get hired by these companies after graduation. I'm here to tell you, with the companies I worked for, it did not.

Upon graduating in 1966 none us knew how to build a Mack truck, assemble Bell telephones or make steel in Bethlehem. These companies took us on fulltime teaching us the "skills" needed. They didn't hide behind the excuses when hiring. I'm certain many will argue greater skills are required then back then. Perhaps so for some occupations. But for most of today's jobs (like back then) consist of repetitive tasks which require less "experience" and "skills" then companies are willing to admit just so they can increase their profit margins.

This constant berating of American workers' skills is a disingenuous talking point. Anyone applying for such a job is best off avoiding such a company. Those who act like they are doing a favor hiring someone are not to be trusted. Do yourself a favor, walk away. Find another willing to invest their time training. It's a partnership. Companies need good workers as much as good workers need them. To think otherwise is a fallacy.

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