Despite a nationwide unemployment rate of 7.9 percent, there’s one sector that can’t seem to fill jobs: the trades.
CBS’ 60 Minutes recently estimated that there are as many as 3 million unfilled trade jobs in the U.S., with more than 500,000 in manufacturing alone. Why are we seeing so many empty positions when millions are struggling to find work? 60 Minutes says there’s a serious “skills gap,” where not enough people are trained for these jobs anymore.
“It’s those basic skill sets. Show up on time, you know, read, write, do math, problem-solve,” Ryan Costella, head of strategic initiatives at fastener manufacturer Click Bond told 60 Minutes. “I can’t tell you how many people even coming out of higher ed with degrees can’t put a sentence together without a major grammatical error. It’s a problem. If you can’t do the resume properly to get the job, you can’t come work for us. We’re in the business of making fasteners that hold systems together that protect people in the air when they’re flying. We’re in the business of perfection.”
Meanwhile, in the auto industry USA Today says there’s “looming” trouble among auto repair businesses that are struggling to find qualified mechanics with the know-how to handle complex diagnostics and troubleshooting. That kind of skill level often requires years of on-the-job experience or training. And many businesses had to cut training and recruitment during the recession, now leaving them with little talent to pull from.
Indeed, advances in technology mean manufacturing and service has become more specialized, requiring a higher level of training and education. But could a reason for this gap also be that there’s simply no incentive for workers? Auto technicians overall earned an average of $35,790 in 2010. Costella told 60 Minutes he hires technicians at $12 per hour.
“I can do a tattoo in three hours and make $300,” 23-year-old Jonathan Hernandez, a student at the Los Angeles Trade Technical College, told USA Today. “Tattoo money is a little easier.”
Others argue that the skills gap is overblown, and the problem lies in not finding real solutions.
Regardless, what are service companies to do? One solution that we’ve written about is for service organizations to develop and train talent from within. Is your company having a hard time finding employees qualified to do the job? How do you go about attracting talent — or cultivating it internally? Let us know in the comments below.
More: Can’t Find the Perfect Technician? Develop One.
Click here to download a free whitepaper, “Five Steps to Make Field Service Profitable.”
While there is a skills gap, the real problem is far more an attitude problem, on both sides. Those hiring will not pay for the skills that they need, and the people who whose skills and attitude exceed the value of the pay offered will work someplace else. It is case of you won’t get what you won’t pay for. And unfortunately a whole lot of people have such a poor attitude that their work isn’t worth any more. A few months back I was one of a group helping to build up a new office full of cubicles. I was carrying almost twice as much, and moving almost twice as fast, as a pair of twenty-somethings, half my age. A whole lot of the problem is attitude, in that a slacker just does not want to work. They will work, but they don’t want to work. Who has the solution to that problem?
There is no single problem in our job market. Sure, there are many jobs for which there aren’t qualified applicants and there are the cases where each side (employer and employee) won’t reach a fair agreement for wages, yet neither of these issues are universal. People who want jobs find and keep jobs. Those who don’t want to work are the ones who get let go when financial tides turn for worse. One real problem is lack of incentive for people to get the training (which exists for a variety of reasons) they need to be employable and the lack of availability. Many training programs I have found have too many requirements for anyone who needs a job to be able to fill (like electric vehicle technician training). When I wanted experience in a new industry, I found it by researching companies that offered products and services in my area of interest and I called each to ask if they were hiring. I found what I wanted because I pursued it intelligently. Some people may not be aware that classified rarely lead to good employment.
I think that Noleander has mostly restated my assertion. Also, it is true that a very large number of people don’t come close to being qualified for training courses for a whole lot of jobs. ON the other side, I am self taught in a wide array of areas, and have never had any formal training in many of my skills. Of course, learning these did require a lot of reading, which is one of those more fundamental to most learning processes. In fact, it is a puzzlement as to how those who don’t read well can possibly ever learn. The really big problem now is that much of our public education system seems to no longer consider reading as that important. Perhaps one solution would be to frequently advertise the question, asked by somebody who looked like a manager, whatever they look like: ” Why would I consider hiring somebody who doesn’t read?” Just a ten second spot during a string of TV commercial announcements, repeated hourly.
If students and parents all understood that and took it to heart, possibly some motivation could be imparted. Just a suggestion, but it might actually help, and it could not be taken as getting in the way of anybody’s personal rights.