Can we stop playing hide the monkey- please?

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Today, I will provide short snippets of facts and observations.  The goal is to start you thinking about the “facts” you hear.

Companies routinely claim they can’t find qualified employees. (Manpower reports that 52% of their surveyed employers have a talent shortage.)   That kids don’t have the proper training.  (I do agree in part with this).  But, as was recently discussed in a special Wall Street Journal report (24 October, Section R), the real issue is that employers no longer understand that it is THEIR responsibility to train new staff.  (Consider the programs that Proctor and Gamble uses to orient, train, and develop its new talent.)

Moreover, most employers want to find highly talented individuals that are willing to work for peanuts- like that’s a realistic expectation.  Using the quote from the article- only 10% of the employees in Silicon Valley during the heyday of the 1990’s had IT degrees.   How did they manage to grow at astronomical rates?

And, if you look at the chart above, you will notice two interesting facts- two of the employee classes needed are DRIVERS and SALES REPS.  I’m sorry, these are not highly skilled positions (they do require excellent attitudes).  Let’s just call it as it is- employers have no desire to pay reasonable wages to hire employees!

Moreover, whatever happened to apprenticeship programs?  These were the norm for skilled trades for decades.  Where the folks are hired at lower wages (NOT fire sale wages, lower than normal) trained in their jobs, and then earn the full salary to which they are entitled.  The only apprenticeship programs that obtain nowadays are for lawyers and professional services- and many of these are not really apprenticeship programs as much as they are methods to rip off the skills of new, inexperienced employees.

Let’s acknowledge the problem as it exists- not as it’s framed for public opinion.   It’s the only way we can get to its root and get to a solution.Roy A. Ackerman, Ph.D., E.A.

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19 thoughts on “Can we stop playing hide the monkey- please?”

    1. Stuart:
      Thanks for your comments. I am just sick and tired (sometimes more the one than the other) of listening to this tripe. Wait ’till next week. I have a surprise corollary in store. thee is a light at the end of the tunnel- if we keep insuring that the train does not get veered off the main track into Storyland…


  1. Oh thank you Roy for pointing this out. I have said every time I’ve heard this nonsense that if you can’t find what you are looking for then why not build it. At my university some degrees still have apprentice programs and there is a line up to get into those. No shortage, you get to have cheap labour and train people the way you like it. Plus afterwards most people I know stayed with the company. It’s a win/win so whats the problem?

  2. Hi Roy,
    Your post is SO right on! I see this on a weekly basis as I am searching for jobs myself. First they tell me I am over qualitified, even though I am applying for a much lower paying job. Then they tell me I don’t have the experience they need but with my willingness to work and learn, they don’t realize they are losing a great opportunity to hire me.

    In my experience, most new jobs require a training period, even if one is “qualified” Therefore, I won’t say much more here because I don’t want to get started in the Old Fashioned way of hiring. This post of yours is so true and I plan to share it today to help you spread the word.

    Thanks for getting this out there.


    1. Cindy-
      As I told you privately, this attitude has me amazed. I recall almost 5 decades ago (yes, I am that old) how folks got hired and trained for the job. No, not as physicians (oh, wait, that was called intern and resident), or as lawyer (oh, wait, that was called first year, where you worked 2500 hours and were paid for 1500)- but as air conditioning repairmen (think back, no women), auto repair, TV repair, assembly line,… OK, you get the idea. I have wondered why this has been true.
      We need to remember that even after graduation as an engineer, for example, the tyro has not yet been put to the test. Oh, he/she may have some experience, but that does not render one capable of running a chemical plant or designing a new power plant right out of school. And, given today’s use of technology, why would we expect a soul to know all the intricacies of an inventory system designed for your company’s personal needs right out of the box? Even UPS trains new drivers for a month before they let them out on their own- and they have defined routes (really!)…
      Thanks for dropping in and commenting, Cindy.


  3. Great post – I couldn’t agree more with your observation regarding apprenticeships. I know they’re still in place in a few unionized industries such as masonry, electrical and plumbing work, but are woefully underutilized. Excellent insight!

  4. A really good point and one that I constantly harp on. So many people believe what the media says, what the experts say and when we challenge it we are told to sit down and shut up. But on top of that- how do you “quantify” attitude for paying someone. The HR people are gatekeepers be they agency or internal and their goal is to fill form not function. God help us – we want to hire people who can think but we ask for nice little compliant beings to apply for the jobs.

    1. And, pay them so well, Roberta!
      I remember one time- we listed a job for a lab tech- and someone applied for the job. He was way overqualified (BS Chem E, with some 5 y of experience). We told him that we were leery of hiring him, because he would be tempted (we would!) to leave after a short while and then we’d be looking for one again. He retorted that he moved to this area (a small rural city) and it was impossible to find any job for which he was qualified. So, we hired him- he eventually became the COO of one of our firms and stayed for some 14 years (before he moved to another city).


    1. Sean:
      I agree. My problem is that way too many freelancers give their stuff away- which renders the pay scale lower. And some of their stuff is below par- which makes it doubly hard for the true professional to succeed- at reasonable rates.


  5. And boy do we need a solution! I agree with you Roy, lets call it as it is and stop telling us or reporting otherwise. Are cororations getting lazy and MORE greedy? Maybe that is why apprenticeships are lacking. Whatever the case is, it seems we are ALL in this together and we ALL need to figure this out. Take action and make things happen. It is a frustrating time right now but I am sure glad I have a professional friend like you that keeps giving me some really great information.

    1. Thanks for your comments, Lynn.
      We need to insure that we stop the little white lies (ok, some pretty big black ones) from spreading politically palatable gobbledegook from confusing the world. If we don’t specify the problems as they are, there is no way we can ever fix them- because everyone will be searching for solutions to something that does not exist.


  6. Great call to action, Roy. Apprenticeship programs seem to have dwindled over time. As far as internships go, I personally had an incredible experience with mine though it was carefully monitored by my university and required I be given skill generating tasks. I have also overseen interns but took time to train them and give them responsibilities. I do realize, however that this may not be the norm and feel there should be strict guidelines and limitations to protect students. What matters most, is the big picture which is that it is time to put more Americans back to work…period.

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