#355. Responses to “Who Needs a Job”

Posted on | The Agurban
Responses to “Who Needs a Job”

We received NUMEROUS responses from our October 25, 2011 Agurban, “Who Needs a Job“. A couple of the responses  are included below, along with more on the subject. (Italics is my response.)

I agree completely. One of our problems is college tuition which has increased dramatically in the past 10 years and most middle class students are graduating with significant debt. At the same time our attendance at our Illinois Eastern Junior Colleges has decreased, even with our emphasis on vocational training for Marathon (refinery) and our factories. We are working hard with LTC to attract more students in all areas of study knowing that some will go on to 4 year schools and some will be employed after a 2 year degree. My Pennsylvania “Dutch” grandmother used to say “It wonders a buddy”.

– In the conference session on Logistical Leverage, the presenters showed how one company’s warehouse/DC site selection analysis in rural Pennsylvania did not consider where their potential workers lived.  After the fact, when that analysis was done, it showed that the type of workers they needed tended to live around 60 minutes away from the warehouse, and they judged the commute to be too long.  The company needs 1,500 people for full production; they have never been able to hire more than 600 workers.

Fascinating!  It is incredible that they didn’t think of that before they built. We are finding more and more firms that are having VERY difficult times filling positions, which confounds me in today’s 9% unemployment times.  The head of one of the major Division I railroads told me that out of 100 workers, they are only able to hire about 7! Fifty percent do not return the second day when told they will be drug tested. Of the fifty that come in, 25 of them don’t pass the drug test, and 18 won’t pass the cognitive tests.

  • Success might require a combination of retraining, drug counseling and tough love/reality check!

 The Wall Street Journal ran an article entitled Why Companies Aren’t Getting the Employees They Need on October 24, 2011. In that article, Peter Cappelli writes, “I believe that the real culprits are the employers themselves. With an abundance of workers to choose from, employers are demanding more of job candidates that ever before. They want prospective workers to be able to fill a role right away, without any training or ramp-up time. …Some of the complaints about skill shortages boil down to the fact that employers can’t get candidates to accept jobs at the wages offered.” Mr. Cappelli suggests there is a “training shortage”.
These comments were in response to the WSJ article but apply here. 

– I believe the points hit in the article are valid but short of realization of another big component of the “problem.” The fact that many companies have raised almost all vocational jobs to “degree required” jobs.  While the USA has continued to ignore vocational job training with a push for everyone to have a BA or BS the fact remains that the vocational schooling link will be the way out of this mess when inflation hits China hard and manufacturing returns to the USA.  I have watched as many process engineers, quality control managers and other system jobs of the old vocational schools get passed over while the company continues to look for a degree to fit whatever management position they are trying to fill.  Quality control, process engineering, manufacturing engineering are all vocational jobs that the “system” converted to degree required jobs.  This was all done under the model of “working with industry” to create a degree so specialized it has very few uses and fewer graduates, but nonetheless becomes the standard for everyone running under ISO certifications for that industry segment and job function.

Response to the above comment – 

– I agree with a lot of this, but …I happen to work in a manufacturing industry in which we would be more than glad to train someone with a GED if they were willing to learn and work.   We are guilty of paying only entry wage (local standard) to someone like that, but we also are willing to promote and provide benefits and look toward the future.   Too many kids don’t want a job like that – i.e., one that doesn’t provide the gold now and requires work and a longer term vision. The biggest “vocational” training requirements we have are getting here on time, working while we pay them, caring about the product quality, and maybe reading a measuring tape.This issue is very complicated and there are many sides to the issue. But it all boils down to the fact that we need to figure out ways to get more people employed!