Friday, May 10, 2019

Demographics is destiny, workforce edition

Another article about the so-called 'skills gap':
“Work force is the number one challenge for manufacturers,” she told KRMG recently. “The average age of a high-skilled worker is 56, and so we don’t have enough people interested and familiar with skilled trades to fill those positions.”
It's amazing to me that employers act like they haven't known for years that some significant cohort of their employees were going to retire, and that they would have to work harder to fill those positions. If that person is 56, I dunno, you've had at least 10 years to make a move? Maybe 20? Amazing. 

6 comments:

  1. That would require a management structure that aimed for results past the next fiscal year...or even quarter.

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    1. I work at a large biotech. We are still playing catch-up with 2018 year end due to the upstairs suits commanding a severe decrease of carryover inventory dollars. There is always a push like that, but this past year was significantly worse than previous years.

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  2. It's easier if we ignore the problem until someone else has to pay for it. If you can externalize the costs and internalize the profits, well then everyone (who matters) wins.

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  3. I think the problem is getting information out to undergraduates as to the kind of STEM jobs that are readily available. I work with undergrads at An R1 research institution and all of the want some kind of high status STEM-based job....doctor...dentist...scientist...chemist (!). The problem is these jobs are highly competitve, and if you are not as good as the best, you are looking at low pay and gaps at unemployment, at best (that's what happened to me). I would like to see schools try to get information out there that its these "high status" jobs are risky to try for, and you might end up wasting many years of youth trying to get one, when you could go to a community college for two years and get a good solid skilled technician job, where you are asking making something useful, instead, say contributing research to our knowledge base. The later is high status (if you have good pay), but to difficult to get.

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    1. It's also really hard to understand this industry if you're on the outside looking in. I wasted a lot of time and effort mailing paper resumes to "chemical companies" that in reality either were distributors or just cranked out product with no R&D - neither kind of company has any use for a recent-grad chemist. I also passed over a lot of companies that might have hired me because it was hard for an outsider to tell them apart from the kinds of company I mentioned!

      If you asked me as a recent grad to name some of the biggest chemical companies, I would have said Aldrich, JT Baker, and Fisher. I had no clue about companies whose names you wouldn't see in an academic lab.

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    2. (cynicism)I think any reasonably high-wage job is suspect - employers don't want to train and don't want to pay more than they have to, so jobs in need will either be chasing the same few people or they will do what they can to outsource it or use more people with more limited skills to cover as many of the positions as possible.(/cynicism)

      Colleges and unis in theory are supposed to prepare people for careers, not jobs - to give students a base set of information and the skills to take advantage of what there is to do. Looking at what is out there at a particular time is not necessarily what they should do - of course, if there is no training available, then the expected flexibility in career doesn't exist and colleges would have to look more at what jobs exist, but in the long run, that's likely a losing game for students.

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