The Skills Gap:

We hear a lot recently about the skills gap. There are not the trained employees that employers require.

I was relatively lucky in the time I was born and the ability I had to pursue my chosen profession.

I was hired right out of school to do the work for which I was educated. My employer introduced me to the support staff and assigned a small project. They put up with the initially slow work and inevitable mistakes. As my experience grew, they assigned more difficult tasks. By the end of my time with this employer, I was handling multimillion dollar contracts and was the expert on a couple of specific structural, load-bearing calculations.

Subsequent employers (I only had three) were also willing to take a chance on neophyte practitioners so that they could mould us into the person who fit their needs.

My children are just now in the early stages of their employment careers. It has been difficult for them to get that all important start. It now appears that employers no longer seem willing to hire and nurture employees. The want highly educated people with training and 5 years experience. I’m sure that’s why you see many intelligent, willing, adaptable young people leaving university and attending colleges and if possibly spending a lot of time volunteering and in unpaid internships.

In earlier times, they would have been evaluated on potential, hopefully hired and taught their specific tasks by their employer. Now they are in effect pre-learning the more detailed job skills that in my day were learned on the job.

As employers squeeze employees, employees lose confidence in the oft touted “company family” and when the opportunity arises move on. Employers, ruing the lost time and cost invested in job training then try to attract already trained personnel. As that pool dried up, they began to require a potential employee to augment his/her own training to the point of immediate usefulness.

Is it possible that the so-called skills gap is a result of enough cut throat employers, over time treating people as “human capital” rather than personnel and ceasing to train in-house?

The Plaidneck