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Does the "Skills Gap" in Employment Truly Exist?

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According to many employers, one major factor explaining why the unemployment rate is still achingly high is not that there aren't enough jobs for those who want them -- it's that job hunters don't have the skills necessary to fill the vacant positions that exist. This fairly new phenomenon has been labeled the "skills gap," and it's been getting a lot of press.

Does a skills gap really exist? From what I can tell, no -- that is, there is no more of a mismatch of skills between job applicants and the positions for which they are vying than there has ever been. There is a problem, however, and companies are at least partly to blame.

A work force short on skills
Shortly after Labor Day, CNBC reported the results of a survey that painted a sorry picture of the knowledge and skill level of the U.S. workforce, at least according to 500 company executives who participated in the poll. Only 8% indicated that there is no skills gap, and the majority of those who believed in its existence ticked off several ways in which workers are lacking.

Besides being deficient in technical, leadership, and computer skills, these executives also bemoaned the fact that job applicants come up short in "soft skills" such as critical thinking and communication. The biggest portion of the respondents, 44%, saw this latter issue as their biggest concern.

Repackaged, and given a new label
The idea of a skills gap isn't new. A paper published in 2009 by the American Society for Training & Development noted that, as far back as 2006, the ASTD had been warning of a discrepancy between the positions available in various industries and the skill level of those applying to fill them. The paper noted that a survey conducted in 2008 showed both high school and college graduates to be ill-prepared for the workaday world, and that half of the employers polled acknowledged having to provide "readiness training" to new employees.

What's wrong with giving new hires a little training? One thing that is becoming clear is that employers don't want to expend any time or expense doing on-the-job training, or even onboarding. Instead, according to an article in The Wall Street Journal from October 2011, companies blame schools for not adequately preparing students for the workplace.

But, as the author of the article notes, employers have a plethora of job candidates from which to select, which tends to make them choosier. In other words, why choose a high school graduate when you can hire someone with a college degree, and pay them the same wages?

Unequal pay for skilled work?
Evidence of wage stagnation is real, which lends credence to the notion that employers simply don't want to pay up for the skill levels they feel they need.

Fellow Fool Sean Williams noted recently that underemployment, the growth of part-time work over full-time employment, and a lack of wage growth have all taken their toll on Americans. Indeed, the U. S. Census Bureau, in its latest report about Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Statistics for States and Local Areas, states clearly that incomes were lower in 2012 than they were in 2007.

An exaggerated problem
While experts like Anthony Carnevale of Georgetown University's Center on Education and the Workforce agree that some mismatch of skills to jobs exists, Carnevale also feels that the extent of the problem is overblown. He notes that one barometer used by those espousing the importance of the skill gap is online job postings, but points out that filtering out old postings drops the supposed three to four million jobs going unfilled each month to a little over two million.

Statistical information also belies the importance of the skills gap. For instance, the unemployment rate for all of 2006 and most of 2007 was comfortably below 5%, yet employers feel that the situation now is at crisis levels. Surely, the financial crisis and ensuing recession had more to do with the current unemployment problem than some phenomenon whereby American workers suddenly lost accumulated workplace skills.

What can be done?
Most executives participating in the survey above thought that company training programs would go a long way to help match workers with jobs, but balked at paying for them.

In a bid to save costs, many companies cut training and apprenticeship programs over the past few years and are reluctant to start them up again. One big fear is that newly trained employees will leave for competitors that do not provide training. It is notable, however, that those companies that do train employees are much less apt to gripe about a skills gap.

Much of the problem, at least as far as executives see it, seems to stem more from employers who don't want to provide on-the-job training, rather than a true dearth of knowledge in the pool of job candidates. Therefore, companies themselves will be instrumental in tackling this issue.

This will cost money, but partnerships with entities like the Skills2Compete Coalition in Indiana -- which is pushing for adult training for in-demand middle-skills jobs such as plumbers – could make those dollars go further. An investment in employees will help companies maintain competitiveness in the long run, which will be a boon to workers, employers, and the economy, as well.

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Read/Post Comments (37) | Recommend This Article (7)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

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  • Report this Comment On September 29, 2013, at 9:43 AM, deutschlandheute wrote:

    There are a few factors :

    1. In the US businesses don't have Apprenticeship programs to train a new skilled labor force like we have here in Germany.

    2. The payscale is another factor. American Businesses are not willing to pay a fair liveable wage.

    3. American Businesses want to make the shareholders happy, so they only reinvest minimal amounts in new research, upgrade technology etc.

    This is why Germany never has believed in the American free style system, last weeks Forbes Magazine had an article about this.

  • Report this Comment On September 29, 2013, at 10:21 AM, msshacie wrote:

    An observation I have made is that many companies seem to ask for skills or education beyond the scope of the position offered but want to pay lower wages than those skills and education should expect. For instance, a college degree and five years experience is probably not necessary to work the counter at a car rental place for ten dollars an hour. Perhaps the companies who are complaining need to take a look at their expectations and compensation packages before they start complaining.

  • Report this Comment On September 29, 2013, at 10:34 AM, sabebrush6 wrote:

    Part of my job as program manager was I got to interview potential employees. Applicants lie through their teeth just to get in the door. I eve had one woman tell me that she was an engineer ( that was the job opening) but she expected me to send her to college to get her degree. When I told her we didn't do that & that we need someone to take over a project immediately & run with it ------ she called me a racist. Yup, that made me a racist, alright.

  • Report this Comment On September 29, 2013, at 10:44 AM, cchamb2 wrote:

    If there were a skills gap, wages would be rising. The law of supply and demand would suggest that if skilled labor is in short supply, the price of it would rise.

    However, the article reports that there is ample evidence to establish that wage stagnation exists. The price isn't rising. Therefore, there is no skills gap.

    However, overzealous and fanatical frugality would create the same perception.

  • Report this Comment On September 29, 2013, at 10:48 AM, SHolly76 wrote:

    We train our new hires (primarily bank tellers) to do their jobs. But we do not teach grammar, spelling, how to write a paragraph, or to think. Maybe MBA's are overqualified (i.e. underpaid), but HS grads, for them most part, simply do not have those basic skills.

  • Report this Comment On September 29, 2013, at 10:53 AM, QlfdDisrespctd2 wrote:

    I feel a lot of the problem is the corporations and the management refuse to look within for "qualified" employees. They are hiring college grads because they hold a piece of paper in their hands, but have no idea how to do the job they have been handed. Why not give an employee the opportunity to move up in the business instead of hiring someone with no background and training them to do the job the existing employee already knows how to do. When the college grads are hired, the "flunky" employees are expected to train the grads how to do their jobs. How wasteful is that?!!!!

  • Report this Comment On September 29, 2013, at 10:59 AM, larryboning wrote:

    All of the drivel about the skills gap is code for: American companies don't believe in the economy and aren't hiring. However, if you are a Rhodes scholar or have a degree in physics or electrical engineering from MIT, we might let you clean toilets for minimum wage while rest on our laurels from bygone days --- when American companies had a vision of a brighter future.

  • Report this Comment On September 29, 2013, at 11:08 AM, johnb975 wrote:

    How about a survey, asking the CEO's do you actually know what the skill gaps are in your company? My guess is, most don't. I bet many CEO's answered this survey, by what they hear and see in the media.

  • Report this Comment On September 29, 2013, at 11:40 AM, stanhope59 wrote:

    I spent 25 years in technical management positions responsible for hiring and firing. In the area of SOTA electrical and mechanical systems, we had trouble getting qualified candidates for many years. Certain schools were crossed off or list as they lowered their engineering and scientific standards below any conceivably useable level. And yes, salary offers did go up to the qualified. In these times, I would imagine companies are being much more selective. The cost of bringing in new employees has gone up (healthcare, etc.) while the risks of uncertain times stays high.

    BTW, the companies I worked for offered full tuition reimbursement for college studies, even if the topic was outside your field. The engineering and middle-management staff seemed to take advantage of this to great personal - and business - benefit. The semi-skilled and unskilled workers did not, insisting that the company offer free training during business hours - in place of the work they were getting paid for! These people by and large did not move upward. I hear a lot of this same type of sentiment in comments here, and from this author.

  • Report this Comment On September 29, 2013, at 11:41 AM, joebatch wrote:

    How about 'skills gap' is code for Americans are too stupid to do the jobs in Americia so therefor we have to have a visa program to 'import smarter people' from 3rd world countries.These 'smarter' people will work for pennies on the dollar here which is more than they would make in their own countries for the same work. If they won't accept what we offer them or make waves well, we'll just ship them back and bring in others who will be glad to be indentured servants. It's a win-win for us to get richer and richer without having the expense of fair pay which is great for our bottom line. And that's all that counts.

  • Report this Comment On September 29, 2013, at 11:42 AM, peterwolf wrote:

    Does the skills gap exist ?? You bet it does !! Want proof !! Look at the millions of useless people in this country ( and growing by leaps and bounds) who's sole function is to breed and produce even more welfare recipients. Oh, and go to the polls in November of course. Meanwhile, companies are desperate for engineers, mathematicians, scientists, etc. What we DON"t need more of is lawyers, community activists, and politicians. THOSE we've got too many of.

  • Report this Comment On September 29, 2013, at 12:07 PM, ladybugSOS wrote:

    Because of an undercover study with various employment/staffing agencies, it is not because of employees lack skills or education at this point in time, it is because employers have chosen to take the African American/Black culture back 50 years and it is due to racisim and discrimination. Also, many employees who are over the age of 45 plus and are highly skilled and experience, employers are shutting the doors on them also. There have been numerous very high profile employment/staffing agencies identified who will express to you that an employer does not want you because you are too old, or what employers do they will say they want hispanic speaking, or college graduate with no experience and a model looking female to walk through their doors. You have employers in which you go on interviews and they will ask you inappropriate questions regarding age, children and other discriminatory questions as to not why they can hire you. The study also was conducted of a Black woman, a White woman an Argentina woman and a Hispanic woman for the same positions and guess who will get hired but had the least of experience and education? White women and Hispanic woman. Asians automatically will discriminate against Black women. Since President Obama has been in office, the workplace and workforce has been turned back instead of forward for affirmative action. The people are out there with a lot of experience, knowledge and background but the employers don't want you if you do not look like a beauty queen, if you are semi-overweight you will be discriminated against. If you have a slight disability you will be discriminated against. The System is broken and the hiring practices are even more broken then ever before! Now in my next comment, the companies, corporations, staffing and employment agencies will be identified. The Department of Labor and EEOC does nothing to regulate or curtail this. My son was recently laid off out of 50 employees because he is Black and they did not want to cross-train him but yet it is ran by Indians and Pakistans along with Jewish people. This place is in Glenview, IL (BurgerFi). My son is a college student and they told him they didn't have enough work but yet they have a "Help Wanted" sign up and have people who are White, Hispanics, Serbians, Asians working double shifts and some of their immigration papers may not be in order but then who cares. So now they have 1 Black male out of 49 people working for them but yet they have many with immigration questions and criminal history questions and then what about drug testing. So this is just to name a little. I will identify more findings when I return. Thank you.

  • Report this Comment On September 29, 2013, at 12:07 PM, oneofthemasses wrote:

    Considering they wanted immigration reform to bring in lower skill and higher skill labor from Mexico I would believe the skill gap is a bunch of hog wash. I could be wrong. Mexico is known for it's high technical labor pool. LOL

  • Report this Comment On September 29, 2013, at 12:09 PM, madman7777 wrote:

    I am a 60 year old white male with 40 years of experience in the transportation distribution and warehousing industry. In the late 80's you could be a forklift driver for bottling companies and make 20 dollars an hour in a union setting. Due to a family illness, I had to quit my job and move to a remote area for a couple years. Now that I am back in the hunt, the entire industry has been taken over by Mexican temp agencies. Henceforth, the pay for a forklift driver today in places like Fort Worth Texas or Las Vegas, NV. can be as little as 8 dollars an hour. But the real kicker is that when someone like me apply's for even a material handler position, I am too overqualified. And since I don't have a college degree, management is out of the question especially since my experience window is not within two years. And what companies expect you to know for a 10 dollar an hour job is ludicrous and they have the common misconception that if you have been forklift certified in one facility that you can drive any forklift they have. Wrong! OSHA regulations state clearly that anyone who drives a forklift needs to be certified by that company on the lift they will be driving period. Companies don't care about rules, or people for that matter. If they did, they would train them to do the job just as they always used to do. I don't care where you have worked, you can't just walk in a place without any orientation as to what the heck the place is about. You don't get that from reading about the bloated and bragged up history of the company that these places put on their websites. If they are members of the fortune 500 worth billions of dollars then they can afford to train their own employees and pay them a liveable wage. Don't complain when it's your own fault because you don't how to properly run a business.

  • Report this Comment On September 29, 2013, at 12:35 PM, Stevegarry22 wrote:

    As a small business owner (trucking company) the few young people that do apply can't even read a "Want Add". Because of insurance I can only hire experienced drivers with 2 or more years of experience, plus they must pass a DOT physical and drug test. The drug test stops most of them. As for our mechanics, kids today don't want to get their hands dirty, or go to technical school. Now to give you and idea of my current employees income. My lowest paid driver made $48,000.00 for 2012, and my mechanics earn $22.50 per hour. But these good paying jobs are to menial for most kids that expect to sit in an air conditioned office and play video games all day, and to dirty and beneath them. That's why the unemployment rate continues to be so high.

  • Report this Comment On September 29, 2013, at 1:40 PM, grumpf52 wrote:

    There are two reasons for a skill gap. First are the ridiculous expectations that many job posters have.Second are the low wages they are willing to pay. Read the job requirements on a site like linked-in and think if you or anyone you know including people presently doing this job are qualified for the listed job. A skill gap is easy to create when you want superman and all you have apply are mere mortals. In this case the most accomplished liar will stand out because no one really possesses the skill set you are asking for. These days the most valuable assets you can have are youth and the ability to B.S. your way through any situation.

  • Report this Comment On September 29, 2013, at 1:55 PM, RMengineer wrote:

    Yes a skills gap does exist and you have to have your head buried in the sand not to see it.

    First of all, we can already see it in considering some of the data we already have.

    Unemployment may be falling, if glacially slowly. But we already know the information that is missing in those numbers. Now, consider the stats on "jobs created". The problem is those numbers are generated by surveys of _payroll numbers_! That is jobs that have already been filled. And further from those numbers we also know that increasingly those jobs are part time and low paying employment. Now combine that with the JOLTS report which is a survey of employer _job openings_ as yet unfilled. That number is also high _and_ includes a large number of _higher paying_ jobs.

    Relatedly, the writer's contention begs the question. The claim that because employer's have a glut of candidates to choose from, they being choosy and _aren't_ hiring them? Really? How does this even make sense? Let's see, I have a job opening (work I need to get done), but because I have all these wonderful and talented candidates to choose from, I am NOT going to hire any of them and go without getting the work done I need to have done hoping to find a more perfect candidate? Seriously? In the real world I don't need a perfect candidate, I need the first one that can get the work done I need to have done NOW. If you could hire someone and get that work done NOW, why would you not?

    Now also consider the unemployment rates by "class". Unemployment among those with college degrees is around 5% (the "classical" best case unemployment figure) whereas for those without a college degree is around 15%. Unemployment for those who swim in $150,000 and up jobs is some 3% (classically 3% would be considered to be indicative of a labor shortage!). Whereas, for the rest is some (20%) (I don't remember this exact figure, but you get the idea).

    When you look at the numbers we already have, they ALL are indicative of labor shortages at the higher educated, higher paid end of the scale and excess labor at the lower educated, lower paid end of the scale.

    But a mismatch of "educated" could also look like "lower educated" as those with mismatched education/skills resort to taking jobs only require more "common skills" that they, along with everyone else posses.

    And reluctance to do OJT is a red herring. Consider for illustration, engineering. As an employer, you aren't going to expect to provide someone with the equivalent of 4 years of education on how to be an engineer - that's not a "little training", that 's what colleges are for and the onus is on the individual to go get that to be able to bring that to the table. Also by it's modern nature, engineering is very specialized, it's not a commodity. A mechanical engineer isn't going to be able to do the work of an electrical engineer, and vice versa. Even within the filed of, say, electrical engineering, there are specializations. A software and a hardware engineer are not interchangeable, nor is an analog and a digital engineer. And you can keep drilling down, and that's before you even get out of college. If your education is one and what is needed is something else, you're _going_ to have a hard time finding work despite your higher education if it's not in a specialty that is in demand.

    The OJT that employers ARE willing to conduct is training on knowledge/skills that may be specific to their products and technologies - but they aren't going to be eager to provide training the _should_ have been obtained at a college, for example. A business exists to _produce goods and services_, not provide skills and training that colleges or other institutions exist to provide. And if they are consuming resources and time to train someone, that's time and resources that are NOT being put to producing their goods and services - that's and EXPENSE that INCREASES the cost of labor. And fundamentally, an employer won't pay more for labor than that labor contributes to increased revenue. And if "OJT" makes that labor cost MORE than the revenue they would realize, they aren't going to hire that person any more than they would produce a product that won't sell for more than the cost to produce it.

    And then there's just simply reality. The labor market is _always_ evolving, Usually this change goes unnoticed as the labor pool adapts and keeps up with the changes. But sometimes it is disruptive, for example during the industrial revolution. So "skills gaps" is not an unprecedented concept and the need for the labor force to evolve it's skills base to adapt to evolving labor needs is as obvious as the nose on your face when you look at the evolution of the kinds of work people did over the course of history - the requisite labor skills has been in continual evolution over history.

    When you look at the industrial revolution and the Luddites of that same time, how is that any different that what we have today?

    So why, for some people, is it such a leap to not only see a "skills gap" as entirely plausible but even likely and probable given not just reason and observable history but the current economic landscape. We KNOW that needed skills evolves over time, yet despite all the evidence supporting this as being, if not the cause, a major contributing factor, people still refuse to admit to that explanation. I would submit that Occam's razor applies.

    When you look at the industrial revolution and the Luddites of that same time, how is that any different that what we have today? The point being is that many people see what is happening today as being "unprecedented" yet we do have the precedent of the industrial revolution. And can look to that for guidance. Did it bring the end of civilization as feared by the Luddites? No, just the opposite - and society made the adaptive changes necessary, it made possible the most expansive increases in prosperity in human history. But they had to _adapt_, but in the end after all the waling and gnashing of teeth over the process of adapting, society went on to experience the greatest expanse in prosperity despite the protestations of the Luddites at the time to the contrary. Do the protestations of the Luddites sound like anything we are hearing today? Oh yeah, and people also like to attribute those turbulent and massively disruptive times to the _creation_ of the "modern middle class".

  • Report this Comment On September 29, 2013, at 1:58 PM, RMengineer wrote:

    "Evidence of wage stagnation is real, which lends credence to the notion that employers simply don't want to pay up for the skill levels they feel they need."

    What part of supply and demand do you not understand?

  • Report this Comment On September 29, 2013, at 2:01 PM, vikingkeith wrote:

    The skills gap myth is debunked again. What there is a a pay gap. Companies want skilled people but do not want to pay. Fine, don't pay, hire people that are not entirely up to scratch or maybe only bring on temps. Then you will get the low morale and poor quality you are paying for.

  • Report this Comment On September 29, 2013, at 2:19 PM, RMengineer wrote:

    "Evidence of wage stagnation is real, which lends credence to the notion that employers simply don't want to pay up for the skill levels they feel they need."

    What part of supply and demand do you not understand?

    In fact I would submit that wages are the economic signal that is SUPPOSED to direct labor resources to where there is undersupply and _away_ from where their is over supply. Here's your signal - high paying jobs are at 3% unemployment (undersupplied) and "employers simply don't want to pay up" for the low skilled jobs because that labor market is oversupplied. That's your signal to get out of the low wage labor markets and supply your labor to the higher paid labor markets. Sure, that might require some e_investment_ on your part in order to supply that market.

    But rather than heed that economic signal that labor needs to be shifted to supply other markets that is currently the case, people want to demand that they get paid _more_ for labor that is not needed because they don't want to make the effort to go supply labor where it is needed and consequently pays more. If higher pay isn't enough to motivate people to leave their low pay high unemployment jobs to go do those jobs, then what will? And who's fault is that?

    But that's why there is such rejection of a "skills gap" as the explanation. People want to blame employers for their low pay and lack of employment. But if the cop to a skills gap, then that puts the onus on people to go get those skills. So they try to come up with any number of arguments that getting skills to do jobs that pay better won't lead to better paying jobs.

    Irrespective of the current employment landscape, it is always the case that some skills pay better than others. If you want the pay that those skills are paid, then you have to be able to to provide those skills that people are willing to pay highly for. If don't have skills that anyone will pay for, then you aren't going to get much pay.

    Remember, people don't pay you for what you think you are worth, they pay pay for the value you work has for them. If your work adds $1 million to someone's bottom line and you're the only one who can make that happen, then you're probably going get paid very well.

    If you're work only adds $10,000 to someone's bottom line, well, they obviously aren't going to pay you more than that. Why would anyone pay for work that just subtracts from their bottom line when labor costs are figured in? They'd just be better off going without that labor. If that additional $10,000 in revenue costs them $15,000 in labor costs, well they're out $5,000 - they'd be better off without that added $10,000 in revenue. when getting it results in being down by $5,000 on the bottom line.

  • Report this Comment On September 29, 2013, at 2:56 PM, jackgxx wrote:

    The "skills gap" is a false flag as one comment stated that wages would be going up for "in demand" skills. Also the use of agencies (Head Hunters) for but only the most senior level/executive employees is seen as a suckers waste in this economy. Employers are loath to train (at low levels especially) in that "trained" employee's will seek new job opportunities with their new/honed skills (naturally).

    Part time work is an effort to create a flexible on demand, zero hour work force to further mitigate labor (and it's overhead/benefits) costs in a bizarre micro business model that needs legislation to control or eliminate. Can macro work/employment be on demand?

    What is really problematic to employers is the expectations and work ethic largely shaped abstractly by the American dream myth and pragmatically by the (domestic) school system eagletarian non-competitive atmosphere that has evolved for not just for social justice reasons, but for litigation avoidance both for teachers and students. The high desire for immigrants both base and professional level is a overt desire for a 19th/early 20th century model of employee, willing to work for the group, compete within the group and pursue a pyramid employment system to work and rise above fellow workers, working and waiting for some nebulous deferred reward/compensation (the meekest and the cheapest).

    In the meantime NOT hiring has benefited corporations/business bottom lines handsomely.. taxes remain historically low .. wages and benefits are controlled and even retreating. So the charade continues, complain about "high" taxes and grouse about an unskilled work force (they paid to educate) .. it's worked so far in allocating the benefits of the recovery to business and the wealthy and blaming the "unwashed" masses for their sloth and unskilled lives. This is what revolutions are made of

  • Report this Comment On September 29, 2013, at 3:31 PM, myamerica wrote:

    I've been saying for the past 5 years that the term "skills gap" was the new code for racism and sexism--targeting the middle class (Unfortunately, middle class whites haven't realized their contribution to their own demise by gatekeeping for the past 30 years--those same rules and policies that they practiced against people of color and women, are now being practiced against us all). There are more college graduates of color and women in the workforce than ever, yet, all of these colleges, where corporations are giving huge endowments and contributions, suddenly are not turning out graduates who can work at their companies. How on earth did America go from being an agrarian society to a manufacturing society without training programs? Do they really want me to believe that children in high school and youth in our colleges are coming out so unprepared for the workplace that millions of jobs go unfilled? Are Parents wasting their money educating their children and giving donations to colleges in vain? That's absolutely ridiculous, yet that is what corporate America wants us to believe! In addition, thanks to NAFTA, jobs were sent to countries where people can barely speak English, but are making $2 an hour and no benefits. Or people are being hired in America with H1B Visas, who come from countries where supposedly, their math and science scores are higher than in America, yet these companies will not support them becoming citizens but remaining eternal contract workers. This is all a shell game that corporations are employing to avoid paying livable wages to Americans, and to assure that when they decide to bring jobs back to the U.S. they are not paying those $30 an hour and up wages. Stockholders and shareholders are not giving up their gains to keep the American middle class in tact.

  • Report this Comment On September 29, 2013, at 4:23 PM, johnb975 wrote:

    I wonder how many skilled people are being turned down, because of a bad credit report. How many people with skills, and a good paying job, lost their house and job in the housing and market crash. Employers don't ask, why is your credit bad. They don't care why. It's sad when businesses turn on the American workers.

  • Report this Comment On September 29, 2013, at 7:20 PM, rreinhard wrote:

    Skills gap. I don't get it. I take courses whenever I can afford to, either at a community college or adult learning at the Local High School. EVERY time, EVERY employer asks the same question. That frequent question is "Why are you going to school?, are you stupid?". That question is usually followed up with a statement that goes along the lines "This better not require you to leave early, or cause us ANY inconvenience in any way". At every place I have worked, I am the only employee that ever considers, or actually follows through, on attending any class or seminar. The only skill I ever see employed is the art of schmoozing. You think taking an Excel, Word, Algebra, Marketing, or English Comp class will get you a raise, you'd be wrong.

  • Report this Comment On September 29, 2013, at 7:36 PM, 2smartforlibs wrote:

    If we didn't spend all the education time in the US teaching things math, science how to balance a checkbook or job skills rather than things like heather has two mommy's or don't be mean or stop a bully. We might be able to have the skills to vote the damn liberal out and we could start getting this country back in order

  • Report this Comment On September 29, 2013, at 8:34 PM, BobDicks123 wrote:

    There a a lot of people like me, proven, extremely qualified and capable but also that have already made a lot of money and won't ever consider working for a corporation again. Simply put, most large US corporations are not purposeful. They are unrewarding places to work and do not represent the kind of place a driven person wants invest their time, effort or energy. .

  • Report this Comment On September 29, 2013, at 9:31 PM, neamakri wrote:

    I read all the above. It is all true. Here is a note from my own life:

    I took a personal week of vacation time and paid over $1,700 for a week-long technical course to better myself at work.

    I was reprimanded !

  • Report this Comment On September 30, 2013, at 2:21 PM, AltReality11 wrote:

    @RMengineer "Yes a skills gap does exist and you have to have your head buried in the sand not to see it."

    Well said.

    My State Representative relayed her experience at a recent job fair. More than a few companies were there who needed technical workers. Those workers are people who have completed sufficient STEM courses in high school. Although there were thousands of job applicants, not one of these companies found anyone capable to hire. To be honest, there are a lot of really intelligent people out there, but how many lawyers are able to work in a production environment?

    Meanwhile, on Sunday, I got a call from a client in a production environment pleading for assistance. I went to the site and solved the problem. That's one of the reasons that at nearly 70, I'm employed while many others are not. I really don't have to work anymore, but I do. And I don't have a college degree. So attending the university isn't a reason or an excuse.

    What are the reasons I'm still working?

    1) At at early age I asked "What contribution can I make to society?"

    2) I spent decades improving my skills, getting additional education and doing what I can to make a difference for others. I've taken thousands of hours of courses! I was mentored by people who really wanted to make a contribution and my acquiring skills and doing what I do is a way of honoring them.

    3) I decided that I wanted to be of value to others. In business, that meant being "vital."

    3) On this specific Sunday, I got off my butt and drove 30 miles to respond.

    2) I do have the necessary skill set and I'm motivated.


  • Report this Comment On September 30, 2013, at 4:07 PM, FoolTheRest wrote:

    <<if you are a Rhodes scholar or have a degree in physics or electrical engineering from MIT, we might let you clean toilets for minimum wage>>

    I would love to see your statistics on all of those MIT graduates working minimum wage jobs.

    << Asians automatically will discriminate against Black women.>>

    Wow. Excellent point in explaining how everyone else is racist.

  • Report this Comment On September 30, 2013, at 9:21 PM, FoolinSD wrote:

    If there are so many skilled workers out there, why don't they start their own companies. Oh right, most students focus on passing tests rather than acquiring critical thinking skills. I'm one of them :)

    Other potential roadblocks to starting a company are laziness, legal/patent costs, & etc.

  • Report this Comment On October 01, 2013, at 2:57 AM, ladybugSOS wrote:

    BurgerFi in Glenview, IL hires all races/culturals, however, they refused to cross-train the "floor guy" which happened to be African American and refused to give him diversity on his working days and nights even though it was clearly stated on his application. BurgerFi in Glenview, IL also refused to compromise with a 19 year old African American Black male College Student's schedule. Also, BurgerFi in Glenview, IL only had 2 African American Males working there and the one they laid off was an educated second year college student and refused to cross-train him in other duties in the company, but yet they cross-trained all other nationalities, races, color and creeds! The owner Al, told an African American woman that he does not take order from a "nigga woman and hung the phone up in her face"! How is this for customer service and for an establishment in Glenview, IL that only shows favoritism, nepotisim to hispanics, whites and indians but Blacks this poor 19 year old became the new Trayvon Martin. They threw him out the backdoor of BurgerFi of Glenview, Illinois like trash and made him sit on the curve waiting for a ride. So what do you think about the way BURGERFI OF GLENVIEW, ILLINOIS treat their employees that are Black and educated (college students) oppose to illegal immigrants and uneducated employees? This is what I am talking about and should be investigated by the Department of Labor and EEOC and maybe other agencies should pay them a visit for Discrimination and Racism!

  • Report this Comment On October 01, 2013, at 6:07 AM, JZ88 wrote:

    Stevegarry22 I agree with most of your argument. I am a airframe mechanic in the air force, and have seen many young people leave the military with mechanical skills and airframe and powerplant cert get jobs. It is not as easy as before the financial scare of 2008 but there are alot of jobs for people willing to get dirty.

  • Report this Comment On October 01, 2013, at 1:30 PM, RMengineer wrote:

    cchamb2 - "The law of supply and demand would suggest that if skilled labor is in short supply, the price of it would rise."

    When you actually see the trees in the forest, you see that the law of supply and demand IS the case.

    The overarching "labor" market is NOT some homogeneous commodity market (forest). It is actually made of of MANY markets for many _different_ types of labor (trees).

    And when you look at that you see that it IS the case that supply and demand DOES hold true. Unemployment is low for high paying jobs and high for low paying jobs. Unemployment is some 3% for jobs paying $150,000. And we know that there is a lot unemployment on the low end of the scale. I tis also the case that unemployment is low for those with college degrees and high for those without.

    What the law of supply and demand tells us is that the demand for high skilled workers is high but the supply is low (low unemployment - insufficient supply, high pay/low market price - high demand). And conversely, the supply of low skilled labor is far higher than the demand for low skilled labor (high unemployment - excess supply, low pay/low market price - low demand).

    Now, when you consider that, as many economists will explain, market pricing is an *economic signal* to optimize allocation of economic resources, this is what wages are telling us about the allocation of labor resources. That is low prices are supposed to push economic resources _out_ of supplying those over-supplied markets and _into_ supplying those under-supplied markets.

    So taken in terms of labor - what the prevailing labor markets are _supposed_ to be telling us is that labor resources NEED to be SHIFTED _away_ from the over-supplied utilization (those jobs with low pay) and instead that labor should be applied to the under-supplied utilization (those jobs with high pay).

    But that would mean people are "inconvenienced" to have to go out and get the skills to be able to do the work that the economic signals are telling us are _under-supplied_. So instead they whine about employers paying little in an over supplied market (just like the law of supply and demand says will happen!) If you want high pay, then you have to move the labor you supply into those labor markets that pay what you want.

    And what's more, and very important, is that the economy and everyone in it would benefit if people stepped up and supplied that labor that the economy is saying is needed more than other labor. You don't increase the prosperity of a society by producing more of what is unneeded/unwanted but by producing _less_ of that and _more_ or what IS needed and wanted. And by people refusing to produce more of what is needed in the economy and insisting on continuing to produce more of what we need less of, that is depriving society of the prosperity we could have if only more labor were supplying more of that which actually contributes MORE to economic prosperity.

  • Report this Comment On October 01, 2013, at 1:38 PM, RMengineer wrote:

    cchamb2 - "The law of supply and demand would suggest that if skilled labor is in short supply, the price of it would rise."

    It should also be pointed out that prices can't raise infinitely, just like prices can't go to zero. Just like there is a floor to prices of goods and services that is set by the cost to produce them (you can't sell a product for less than it costs to produce it - at least not in any real economic sense), you also can't pay more for the resources to produce that good than you can sell it for. You can't pay people more than their work will contribute to increasing revenue.

    The mistake people make about the "law of supply and demand" is that they forget of fail to grasp the concept that "supply and demand" doesn't determine markets prices over all infinity, but only over the range of prices that are physically and mathematically possible.

  • Report this Comment On October 01, 2013, at 3:53 PM, AltReality11 wrote:

    <<if you are a Rhodes scholar or have a degree in physics or electrical engineering from MIT, we might let you clean toilets for minimum wage>>

    On Sunday, a scientist with a PhD who invented an electron microscope checked in via Skype so he could be with us.

    He's currently living in Japan and is teaching 7th and 8th graders.

    His age is less than 50.

  • Report this Comment On October 02, 2013, at 6:57 AM, JackTroy wrote:

    I must agree that Americans have an overblown sense of entitlement in how much money they make. We are in a global economy and American workers are in competition with everyone on the planet. How can you have that situation and NOT take a hit on salary? I don't like it but it is what it is.

  • Report this Comment On October 05, 2013, at 3:44 PM, JZ88 wrote:

    JackTroy, I share your opinion on the general entitlement attitude of people here in America. I have also lived in Asia and Europe and its not a unique American trait but a human one. I ask this question then, your right we are a global economy, but we are an economy based on continuous growth, largely through consumption. We also have one of if not the highest general standard of living. How do we become more competative with countries that have very cheap labor, and lower standards of living? I only ask because I like to have rather contrustive conversations unlike ladybugsos

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