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How can Good Jobs go Unfilled?

July 7, 2010


I stumbled upon a few articles, and numerous News coverages, and thought a discussion was in order.  We’re getting to the point where even good news comes wrapped in bad news.  Jobs created … Jobs saved … blah, blah, blah.  It’s nice to hear jobs were created, right?  But, when compared to what was lost, it’s simply just not very impressive.  😦

Here’s a News Flash – Factory employers apparently cannot find the Manufacturing workers they need (as reported by the NY Times).  The underlying problem, the companies say, is a mismatch between the kind of skilled workers needed, and the skills of the Unemployed.  Apparently, during this recession, domestic Manufacturers appear to have accelerated the long-term move toward greater automation, laying off more of their lowest-skilled workers, and replacing them with outsourced cheaper labor abroad.  Now, they are looking to hire domestic people who can:

  • Operate sophisticated computerized machinery
  • Decipher complex blueprints, and/or utilize multiple software databases
  • Demonstrate higher math calculations than was previously required of the typical assembly line worker [tweetmeme source=”@Aidan_Foley” only_single=false]

But, they can’t find them.  You may ask, what’s driving the deterioration of our workforce?  Some will say a failed immigration policy that favors the Unskilled.  Immigrants to other countries typically arrive with very high skills, including English-language competence.  But, I’m sorry to say that the United States has taken a different course.  Since the 1980’s (and before), the United States has received millions of migrants, with a good portion of them illegal.  Migrants to the United States arrive with much less formal schooling than migrants to other countries, and very poor (if any) English-language skills.

We talk a lot about retraining workers with up-to-date skills, but we don’t really know how to do it very well.  Even more important, how do we as a society train our children for jobs that don’t even exist right now?

In the short-term, we need immediate policies to fight this Recession.  We need a demand to develop a supply of products and services.  Just throwing stimulus money at the problem only creates very temporary jobs, such as Census jobs, for example.  We, in the industry, just call that the “band-aid” fix.  It takes care of the problem now, but comes back later because it was never really fixed.

The United States needs a human capital policy that emphasizes skilled immigration, and halts unskilled immigration.  We needed that policy 30 years ago, but it’s not too late to start now.


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