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Skills Shortage Called an Illusion

Posted By Chris Chiappinelli, February 27, 2012 at 6:59 AM, in Category: Next-Generation Leadership and the Changing Workforce

There's a great discussion already under way on Manufacturing Executive about the role of apprenticeship and training programs in the talent shortage. After reading an article in the Columbia Journalism Review last week, I thought I'd open a new discussion on the topic. The article, by CJR's Ryan Chittum, touches on the role that training plays in filling the talent gap, but it proposes a much simpler explanation for the problem: Manufacturers aren't willing to pay enough to acquire the talent they need.

Chittum looks at media coverage of the manufacturing skills shortage and finds a crtitical component missing. He writes of a recent story in the Washington Post: "The impact of wages—which ought to be a primary factor in any story on why a company can’t find workers—gets short shrift..."

And he derides newspapers and other news outlets for what he sees as cowtowing to the story line promoted by manufacturing executives:

"Letting companies complain that there’s no reserve supply of labor when they need it amidst mass unemployment is a bit much. If you need the perfect fit, you’d better be prepared to pay that prospective employee or to train him or her."

So, is Chittum right? Are manufacturers just not spending enough to solve the skills shortage?

Written by Chris Chiappinelli

Chris Chiappinelli is the online research manager for Manufacturing Leadership. He covers enterprise software, sustainability, economic trends, workforce issues, and emerging technologies.


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