We have been hearing for a while that the jobs situation has become one, not of a shortage of workers, but rather a shortage of skilled workers. Just today I was listening to the radio and heard an advertisement for a local electrical company that is in such need of workers they are willing to pay a $500 sign-on bonus. Really, a sign-on bonus in today’s job market? Yet we hear tales of employers needing skilled workers such as machinists, welders and mechanics but they are unable to find them. So those jobs go unfilled. Similar stories are told of skilled computer industry jobs because employers are unable to fill IT jobs because of a lack of skills. A study by the Boston Consulting Group has put a different spin on this situation by suggesting that it is not a shortage of skilled workers but rather it is a shortage of employers willing to train workers to fill these positions.
Employers being very selective
The BCG study suggests that there is only a narrow skills gap, less than 8% of skilled workers. They suggest that the reason jobs go unfilled is that employers are being very selective and are offering rock bottom wages because they have learned how to do more with less using their current workforces. I think it also has to do with an unwillingness on the part of employers to step up and do the training that is necessary. I mentioned the electrical company above that is willing to do a sign-on bonus. The one provision is that you MUST be an experienced electrician. Perhaps they might be better served in spending that money training willing apprentices. Mark Butler, the Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Labor, in a recent conversation I had with him, said that many companies are looking for skilled workers but can’t train them and they don’t know what to do. He said that many of the technical colleges are willing to train workers for employers in the skill sets the employer needs. He specifically mentioned training in welding that one school performed for a business at the request of the business.
I have written some about this in the past at Skill Shortage? Stop Complaining and Do SOMETHING! In that post I offered this advice:
- Work with a school to design a program specifically to train workers that will get them up to speed in the shortest time frame possible.
- Hire capable people who have basic skill sets and loads of potential.
- Pay them an introductory salary to learn.
- Be rigid in the landmarks and progression you expect them to exhibit.
- Upon successful completion of the class you have trained workers.
Is it really in the best interest of the company to let positions go unfilled? How much revenue is lost because of an unwillingness to spend some money on training people? Perhaps some of you can shed some light on this conundrum?
By the way the Boston Consulting Group study said that by 2020 the shortage of skilled workers will be a major problem if employers don’t start stepping up to the plate and start doing some training. Don’t say you have been warned.