You see a lot of media attention these days about how employers are not able to find qualified employees to fill positions they have open, and the gap is widening. Some of these complaints come from the educational industry, who has an agenda to push their services of educating people for these positions. Others are actual employers who can’t find people for their jobs. This may well be the case. And now government seems to be interested in getting into issue, spending taxpayer money to “fix” the problem. However, I believe there are a couple pieces of info missing in this equation. And government should stay out of it.
A few years back a prominent retail store opened in the Bangor (Maine) Mall area. They openly complained (on local TV no less!) that they had plenty of job opportunities but couldn’t fill them. What they neglected to relate was the fact that most were part-time sales positions that paid low, entry-level part-time wages, and did not have good paid benefits nor health insurance offerings. Further, the hours were not conducive to the type of work force in the area. For example, for this type of pay scale, a working mother with school-age children would be ideal. But if the employer expects them to work when their children are home from school, a mother with younger children probably will not/cannot afford to take the job.
I believe the missing info that many employers fail to disclose is that these positions they have trouble filling are:
- Very specific in what experience and qualifications they require, which are too restrictive in the real world or the workforce pool in their areas, and
- The pay rates are extremely low when compared to the cost of gaining the experience and knowledge they insist the employee have.
In fact, years ago I found an impossible-to-satisfy minimum requirement on one job I applied for. I’m in information technology. You know, computers, networks, communications, keeping them running. The employer wanted 5 years’ experience in a product that had only been on the market for 3 years! How would that have been possible? Maybe they were trying to hire the developers? When I pointed out the problem to their HR Dept, who was filtering the incoming résumés, they simply ignored me. This happens in IT often enough that you have to wonder if they do this on purpose. At the very least it shows a lack of attention to detail on the part of the company. Would you want to work there?
That leaves job seekers with no choice but to view the “job requirements” that many companies list as simply the “nice to have”. That is, it has to be negotiable because the job requirements can’t possibly be met. Companies that believe they can’t hire someone who can learn quickly or has similar skills that can be transferred will spec themselves out of finding very talented people.
And that’s the real problem. Unrealistic expectations. Low pay scales. Poor hiring practices. No wonder they can’t fill the positions.