Perched atop the mountainous voter terrain are two jackals howling about todays tepid job market. The first, President Obama, is intent on rallying the populous around his “Keynesian” infused jobs model centered on economic stimulus. His sparring partner, Republican candidate Mitt Romney is loudly trumpeting what he’d do to fix the jobs mess with a platform that’s let’s just say is….. laughable.
I’m personally of the opinion that there is not a jobs problem in the U.S. Rather, I believe that we are facing a shortage of qualified talent for a vast array of openings that are already available. Sadly instead of offering any ideas of substance regarding this issue, Obama and Romney continue to job and poke at each other, howling into the wind with little traction in their respective messages.
When you boil it all down the truth of the matter is that we are experiencing talent shortages of unprecedented proportions. And not just in the U.S. but globally, as parts of Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Brazil will attest.
According to a recent Talent Shortage Survey conducted by the global staffing firm Manpower International, 49 percent of US employers revealed that they are experiencing significant challenges in filling mission critical positions. And all this despite high unemployment. Moreover, an estimated 600,000 jobs nationwide will likely go unfilled because of a lack of qualified job candidates. Most of these are well paying jobs in fields like plumbing, welding, robotics, auto repair and electrical.
The airplane manufacturer Boeing estimates that over 460,000 new pilots will be needed worldwide by 2031, including 69,000 in North America. On top of that they estimate that 601,000 new aircraft maintenance technicians will be need over the course of that same time period, including 92,000 in North America.
All of this indicates a need for a tabula rasa on the jobs issue. And here are a couple of places to start.
First, in true libertarian style, candidates Obama and Romney should begin by addressing the oppressive government regulations that serve as a bottleneck for any effective jobs agenda. By way of example, new Federal Aviation Administration regulations is in the process of raising the flight experience threshold from 250 hours of flying to 1,500 hours. This will undoubtably make it harder for airlines to attract new pilot candidates, particularly when you consider the low entry level pay for pilots as well as the $150,000 plus in debt that 4 year aviation majors are graduating with.
Second, with the costs of formal education soaring, why not propose funding for private sector apprenticeship program to address those blue collar workforce needs of greatest demand. Arizona is one state that is rapidly gaining some traction in this area through its Arizona Commerce Authority Apprenticeship Office. Through these efforts over 1,200 Arizona employers are now training over 3,000 registered apprentices across a variety of fields.
In pondering this apprenticeship model, I think back to conversation I had several years ago with the spouse of a friend of mine who owned a business installing glass for commercial buildings. He lamented that the greatest constraint to his company’s growth was finding workforce talent with the necessary skills to address the burgeoning demand for his glass related services. Last I heard, he was considering starting his own in-house apprenticeship program in an attempt to address this concern. And by the way, starting pay for these positions was a respectable $50,000.00/year.
So candidates Obama and Romney, how about considering a rational approach to this supposed jobs mess. Let’s stop the howling now and take pragmatic steps to move our nation’s job economy forward.
Michael Scott is a career strategist located in Denver, CO. He can be reached at 303-578-0791