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Workers weld drawers on the assembly line at Metal Box International toolbox factory in Franklin Park, Illinois. Photo by Timothy Aeppel/Reuters

Column: How employers have contributed to the ‘worker shortage’

Nick Corcodilos started headhunting in Silicon Valley in 1979 and has answered over 30,000 questions from the Ask The Headhunter community.

In this special Making Sen$e edition of Ask The Headhunter, Nick shares insider advice and contrarian methods about winning and keeping the right job, on one condition: that you, dear Making Sense reader, send Nick your questions about your personal challenges with job hunting, interviewing, networking, resumes, job boards or salary negotiations. No guarantees — just a promise to do his best to offer useful advice.


Question: I’m tired of reading about employers that complain there’s a talent shortage and that they can’t find people who can do a job. When I started my career 30 years ago, a company would hire you because you were smart, had aptitudes and showed you could learn new skills. Then they’d give you a good offer, provide some training and put you to work. All of a sudden, companies want somebody who has already done the exact job — because there is no training of any kind! With the low salary offers companies make today, how do they expect to get the perfect hire anyway? Is it me or is something wrong here? If companies really want to fill those jobs, why don’t they provide training and higher pay?

Nick Corcodilos: It’s not you. Something is very wrong. One of my favorite digs against employers gets credence from Wharton labor researcher Peter Cappelli.

In “The Training Gap: How employers lose their competitive edge,” I cited Cappelli, who said while companies complain today’s workforce lacks the up-to-date skills employers need, that’s a problem employers themselves contribute to:

“American companies don’t seem to do training anymore…the amount of training that the average new hire gets in the first year or so could be measured in hours and counted on the fingers of one hand.”

That was in 2015.

Recently, Bloomberg Businessweek reported that “Fifty-five percent of U.S. employers surveyed by ManpowerGroup this year said they were providing additional training to cope with talent shortages.”

Sounds great, doesn’t it? But Cappelli wasn’t — and still isn’t — wrong. Cappelli suggested that if employers really need to fill jobs, you’d think they’d also be willing to pay more in today’s highly competitive hiring market — right?

Well, they’re not.

Cappelli claims — and I agree — that the “talent shortage” employers cry crocodile tears over is at least in part due to their failure to pay competitive wages and salaries.

Wait for it…The same Manpower survey reported by Bloomberg just last month revealed that while many companies are offering training to cop with talent shortages, “only 26 percent [of employers surveyed] said they were offering higher salaries.”

What’s wrong here is that companies are shooting themselves in the foot. Training by itself — though a good thing — clearly isn’t solving their hiring woes. Without higher, more competitive pay, I think employers will continue to suffer with vacant jobs while they blame the talent pool.

Dear Readers: What do you say? Are you seeing employers deliver more training and education to workers? Are employers making higher job offers — and paying higher salaries — to get and keep workers who have the “necessary skills?”


Nick Corcodilos invites Making Sense readers to subscribe to his free weekly Ask The Headhunter© Newsletter. His in-depth “how to” PDF books are available on his website: “How to Work With Headhunters…and how to make headhunters work for you,” “Keep Your Salary Under Wraps,” “How Can I Change Careers?” and “Fearless Job Hunting.”

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