Why Companies REALLY Can’t Find the Employees They Need, Part 2

Nov 4, 2011

Editor’s Note: This post by Cheryl Oldham originally appeared in ChamberPost, the official blog of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

The Institute for a Competitive Workforce’s (ICW) Cheryl Oldham has taken issue with Dr. Peter Cappelli’s recent column in the Wall Street Journal in which he argues that the American business community is partially to blame for the country’s unskilled workforce.  This three part blog series by Mrs. Oldham argues that Dr. Cappelli’s theory is short sighted, and that it is the nation’s mediocre educational system that is the primary reason for the skills gap. (Part 2 of 3)

Yesterday, I started unraveling Dr. Cappelli’s arguments that blame businesses for the current talent shortage. Today, I’ll take on his claims about companies’ rigid hiring requirements.

Computer technician

Dr. Cappelli argues that companies are too rigid in their hiring requirements and that many people could take these jobs if only they invested in some training, which h

e says companies are no longer doing.  Except that companies spend nearly $60 billion annually on training, according to the research firm Bersin & Associates.  That nearly equals the federal government’s investment in the U.S. Department of Education.  Other research suggests the investment is actually much larger – The American Society for Training and Development estimates $170 billion was spent in 2010 by American business on learning and development.

Furthermore, the author ignores that the common American workplace has grown to be ever more complex.  Technology aids corporate productivity greatly, but businesses need workers who are capable of operating in that environment.  As such, they have higher demands for skills than ever before.  Unless one believes, for instance, that manufacturing solar panels is no more complicated than building a Model T, or that a typewriter is no more sophisticated than modern computer.  It takes more than a six-week course to overcome many of these talent shortfalls.

In my final post, I’ll discuss Dr. Cappelli’s argument comparing the American educational system to Germany’s and Switzerland’s.

Read more from ChamberPostthe official blog of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

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