3 million open jobs, but who’s qualified?

There are 3 million open jobs in U.S. because workers lack skills, reports 60 Minutes.

With a solid basic education, people could learn vocational skills, writes Marc Tucker in Ed Week.  Instead, people are leaving high school and college without the ability to ” read complex material, write clear expository prose, analyze problems and solve them” and use high school-level math.

A Nevada company called Click Bond needs workers who can program computer-controlled machines, fix them and ensure fasteners are made to precise specifications.

They are having a very hard time finding people who “read, write, do math, problem solve,” says Ryan Costella. “I can’t tell you how many people even coming out of higher ed with degrees who can’t put a sentence together without a major grammatical error…If you can’t do the resume properly to get the job, you can’t come work for us. We’re in the business of making fasters that hold systems together that protect people in the air when they’re flying. We’re in the business of perfection.”

. . . Click Bond, desperate for help, banded together with other employers to set up a program at the local community college. They took unemployed people—and Nevada has a very large supply of such people—tested them for aptitude, interviewed them for attitude, and then trained them for the work that was available. The students were taught to operate the computers, read blueprints, learn trigonometry to make precise measurements—all in sixteen weeks.

But it cost $60,000 to train 20 workers.

Education requirements are climbing, say many employers. In the future, an administrative assistant probably will need an associate degree.

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  1. Mark Roulo says:

    “But it cost $60,000 to train 20 workers.”

    $3,000 to train a worker for a skilled position doesn’t seem very high.

    This would be the cost to take a single 4 unit course in something like Introductory Astronomy at a lot of 4-year liberal arts colleges…

  2. Crimson Wife says:

    I have worked as an administrative assistant, and that job doesn’t take more than a H.S. diploma *IF* that diploma is worth the paper upon which it is printed. Fix K-12 education and there won’t be “degree creep” in job requirements.

  3. Roger Sweeny says:

    “Education requirements are climbing, say many employers.”


    Educational *credentials* are climbing. An employer may well want an associate degree for an administrative assistant position. But that is not because the position requires any special skills that come with two years of college. Rather, it is because:

    1. Employers fear that a high school diploma does not actually mean that the recipient has high school skills.

    2. Compared to people who never completed high school, who simply have a high school diploma, or who took some college courses but never finished, people with associate degrees generally rank higher in Bryan Caplan’s trinity of intelligence, conscientiousness, and conformity. If there are more applicants than positions, requiring an associate degree makes the selection process quicker and easier.

  4. I find this argument to be specious. I saw this episode of 60 Minutes. The problem we face now with over 3 million vacent positions is due to poor recruiting on the parts of companies.

    I do grant that the government schools have done a terrible job in properly educating students. I believe there is a deliberate dumbing down of the curriculum. But why not train these indivduals on the job? There’s always a learning curve in any position whether you only have a high school diploma or a Phd. I’m just sick and tired of hearing this argument. A lot of times employers take the lazy route of posting jobs on Monster.com or Career Builder. And many job hunters use the conventional route of responding to these ads. And then complain that they can’t find workers. I just don’t buy it anymore.

    • Roger Sweeny says:

      Scherie, if a company trains a person, that person probably also becomes better qualified for jobs at other companies. Since slavery is illegal, the person is legally free to leave and take a better paying position at any time. The company takes a risk when it spends time and money to train someone.

      Companies sometimes try to get around this by paying for the employee to, say, take courses at the local community college on the condition that she will repay the employer if she leaves within two years. But outside courses are often not tailored to the company’s needs.

  5. Roger,

    Most high school diplomas are about as useful as toilet paper. Just today on Drudge, there was a link showing that only seven percent (7) of Michigan’s 8th graders are proficient at reading.

    3 million jobs which are open, but so many workers are unskilled, that this is a economic tragedy. When I attended school until 1981, a high school dropout could make a good living working in the trades, not anymore due to the skills actually needed to handle these jobs today.

    Of course, if the students actually EARNED the grades given, and their diplomas, perhaps most of these 3 million jobs would be filled.

  6. Scherie,

    It is IMPOSSIBLE to train people ‘on the job’ if the lack the required skills to be able to handle the task at hand. Most of the skills required are things which I learned when I attended middle and high school in the mid 70’s to 1981.

    If the students haven’t learned the minimum required skills, the company doesn’t have the time to provide the level of skills they should already possess as high school graduates.

    Same goes for students who need remedial education in college (2 or more classes). IMO, they have no business being admitted in the first place.