Employers complain they can’t find skilled workers, but they’re demanding too much and refusing to train new workers, Peter Cappelli, a management professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School and director of Wharton’s Center for Human Resources.
To get America’s job engine revving again, companies need to stop pinning so much of the blame on our nation’s education system. They need to drop the idea of finding perfect candidates and look for people who could do the job with a bit of training and practice.
Half of employers surveyed by Manpower say they have difficulty finding skilled workers. That’s because they want experienced workers with exactly the right skill set, Cappelli writes.
Notice the shortage of skilled tradesmen, sales reps, drivers, admins and machinists on the Manpower survey. These are jobs that typically don’t require bachelor’s degree.
Employers should work with colleges to ensure that job candidates developed needed skills, Cappelli writes.
Community colleges in many states, especially North Carolina, have proved to be good partners with employers by tailoring very applied course work to the specific needs of the employer.
Candidates qualify to be hired once they complete the courses—which they pay for themselves, at least in part. For instance, a manufacturer might require that prospective job candidates first pass a course on quality control or using certain machine tools.
Employers also can create apprenticeships, when possible, or longer probationary periods for novices to get up to speed, he suggests.
In Capelli’s follow-up — he got tons of mail — he concedes there’s a shortage of information technology graduates with skills in mobile devices and data mining. That’s because students choosing majors four years ago didn’t anticipate the mobile boom. “We cannot expect schools and students to guess what skills employers will need,” Cappelli writes. “Employers have to do more.”