I put Middle Earth Journal in hiatus in May of 2008 and moved to Newshoggers.
I temporarily reopened Middle Earth Journal when Newshoggers shut it's doors but I was invited to Participate at The Moderate Voice so Middle Earth Journal is once again in hiatus.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

No Skill Mismatch in a Healthy Labor Market

Matt Yglesias has a post up today where he links to a post he did in May.
No Skill Mismatch in a Healthy Labor Market
I sometimes hear businessmen blame high levels of joblessness on "skill-mismatch" whereby available workers just don't have the know-how to do the jobs that are available.
He gives the example skilled baristas.  In the DC area the unemployment rate is 5.5% and employers are required to train them and they do.  On the other side of the coin is Portland where the unemployment rate is 8.3% and there are plenty of skilled baristas so employers don't train.

I was an engineer in electronics manufacturing for over 30 years.  We were always looking for talented assemblers but there were never enough.  We brought untrained people in and trained them.  We would first put them in a job that required little training.  If they showed potential we would give them a couple of hours of training a week in increase their skill level.  The very talented would eventually reach the level of technician or machine operator.

But that's not something that happens when an economy is not healthy.  Even if there is a shortage of workers with a particular skill employers hesitate to invest the time and money in training.  So the problem is not so much a skill mismatch but an unhealthy economy.

1 comment:

  1. Trained your own people? What a quaint idea!

    Of course we in the food business did that for years until systems were put into place that required no training. When I was a fast food manager we had a form to count money at the end of the day. You literally counted the number of each denomination of money, even the coins, put the number into a blank, multiplied to record the amount, then add the column for the total. When I first saw it I couldn't believe it. It was explained that if the district manager came into the store for a surprise audit and the numbers didn't reflect the actual money in the safe the manager could be discharged. This was to prevent anybody "borrowing" any money even overnite. I couldn't wait to find other employment.

    The place where I went was an old-fashioned Southern cafeteria company that was managed like a throwback to the Fifties. If a baker or cook was needed the manager recruited someone from the dish room or serving line who wanted to make a little more per hour. They were then trained to the new job. But plain old cooking is not rocket science, so training was simply a matter of learning where to find stuff and follow the recipes. But that system worked all the way to the top. There were store managers who had started as dishwashers and worked their way to the top -- it may have taken a couple of decades, but they did -- and a few were in the six-figure range fifteen years ago.

    I don't completely buy the idea that today's jobs require a high level of education and training. Many do, of course, but that notion has become so embedded in today's thinking that the idea of actually coaching, mentoring and training subordinates has nearly vanished. (But I bet they don't have that problem in China, India, Korea, etc.)


Be Nice