The government boasted unemployment at 4.9% last month which, if you did five minutes of factual research, would discover that 4.9% is probably unrealistically low. Experts say that with those who are now among the “I give up looking” crowd, numbers are actually much higher. This issue has intensified over the past seven years. My family watched “Cinderella Man” the other night for the umpteenth time. Excellent boxing movie that takes place during the Depression of the ‘30’s. Once again I shuddered to think what those poor people experienced. Heartbreaking. Hopefully, that terrifying lesson will stay in the history books and refrain from rearing its ugly head again. If you’re the one out of a job, however, stats don’t really matter, do they? You need a job.
So what’s the truth about the American job market today? One side screams that there are no jobs! Jobs have gone overseas or government regulation has strangled companies out of existence. There are tons of explanations, all partially true. Wait till you hear what I discovered though. Wow! Was not expecting this…
Many employers are reporting that there are jobs aplenty in their companies but no one qualified to fill them. What?? I thought there were a gazillion college grads out there beating the streets but still living in their parents’ basement unable to find a job in their chosen field. This is true also but maybe not for the reasons you think. Many companies have dropped the ball in providing internships or entry level positions. The risk and pain of training greenies is expensive and not worth the risk, they surmise. They are definitely part of the problem. However, that’s not the big shocker.
The Association of Colleges and Universities published a paper in January 2015 that showed a huge disparity between how college grads see their readiness/preparedness versus how employers see them. For instance, “while 59% of students said they were well prepared to apply their knowledge to the real world, just 23% of employers said so.” In 17 job-related field questions, employers gave most applicants a failing grade. Enterprise Rent-a-Car, like many other employers, found that “today’s college graduates are severely lacking in some basic skills, particularly problem solving, decision making, and the ability to prioritize tasks.” Students, employers say, have had decisions made for them and as a result, cannot think for themselves. “One study is the result of a test administered to 32,000 students at 169 colleges and universities. It found that 40 percent of college seniors fail to graduate with the complex reasoning skills needed in today’s workplace. The test, The Collegiate Learning Assessment Plus, is given to freshmen and seniors and measures the gains made during college in critical thinking, writing, communication, and analytical reasoning. The results found little difference between the freshmen and the seniors. That is frightening. The results go on to say that those who studied math and science scored significantly higher than those who studied in the so-called helping and service fields such as social work, and in business, which is the most popular college major.” (Inside Higher Ed., January 20, 2015)
Many employers said that they almost didn’t care what the applicant’s major was as long as he/she had good communication skills, and could think analytically. Silly me… I just figured all colleges and universities taught those vital survival skills. Shows how long it’s been since I was in college! And with the avalanche of communication through social media, with BYKI, 2G2BT, AAAAA (I’m going to let you figure those out!) it’s no wonder many people can’t communicate in complete written sentences.
The following graph shows the enormous gap between how college grads view their job-readiness and how employers perceive the same student readiness.
Sobering results, huh? So where is the disconnect? What happened? From what I researched, I contend that everyone has some fault in this disparity. Higher education has reported a 10-15% drop in enrollment so what do many do? Offer “touchy feely” majors that really don’t prepare students for the real world. They are basically giving the students an easy way out, providing an opportunity to be “creative” instead of learning critical skills needed for the real world work force. Plus adding insult to injury, once finally out of school, they’re saddled with a $35-100K school loan debt for a weak and basically unsubstantial “education”.
I also contend that the destructive affects of political correctness are now coming home to roost. Since competition has become a four-letter word in society, we take away keeping score, we take away allowing our kids to fail, and attempt to sterilize their environment so that they never get their little feelings hurt or hear anything offensive. How unrealistic is that?
I refer back to Cinderella Man where James J. Braddock is confronted with his vicious and huge opponent Max Baer the night before the big fight. Baer says some nasty disparaging things to Braddock to taunt and goad him. Braddock simply brushes it off. WHY? Because up to that point he had had numerous life experiences of successes and failures that prepared him to react like a dignified and mature human being. I’m not even sure that movie could be made today. It touts the American Dream, winners and losers, hard work, personal accountability, honesty, fidelity, true loyalty, and becoming anything BUT a victim. Do those things even matter nowadays? So after we’ve FAILED our children by shielding them from all things normal, we then expect them to enter the real world where a real live boss actually has the nerve to expect them to real life problem solve, think things through and come up with viable solutions.
My own husband is in the process of hiring an assistant. Granted, he’s in a small and specialized insurance and bonding niche. But the pool from which to draw is terribly small and frustrating. I spoke to a friend today whose son is part of a huge corporation in California. He recently had to fire his janitorial manager making $60K per year. He has interviewed way too many applicants who simply cannot communicate or carry out simple tasks. This is scary folks. If you have kids in school, I beg you to make sure they are learning communication skills, critical thinking and problem solving. Bottom line? The jobs are out there. They’re going to go to the best applicants. Let that be your kid… or you!