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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Timely and Credible, June 10, 2012
This review is from: Why Good People Can't Get Jobs: The Skills Gap and What Companies Can Do About It (Paperback)
Author Peter Cappelli is a professor at the Wharton School and former co-director of the National Center on the Educational Quality of the Workforce during the Bush and Clinton administrations. This book grew out of a series of articles written by him for 'Human Resource Executive' magazine, as well as correspondence with many who wrote back after a Wall Street Journal follow-up. Author Cappelli contends that the 'real culprits' are the employers themselves, wanting prospective workers to fill a role without any training. not eg. applicants choosing to get worthless degrees. One company even claimed that despite 25,000 applicants for a standard engineering position, not one was qualified.

Thus, concludes Cappelli, blaming schools and applicants isn't the solution, nor is continuing the way we're doing things now. More must be demanded of employers, as in the past. Example: During the IT job boom of the 1990s, only about 10% of the people working in IT jobs had any IT academic qualifications.

The 'good news' is that employee productivity grew 6.7% from 2008 to the start of 2012. The 'bad news' is that GDP was only 1.2% higher at the start of 2012 than 2008, so employers needed 5.5% fewer employees. Meanwhile, population continues growing - about 140,000 each month (4% larger now than at the end of 2008).

Employers also complain that the problem is that the American education system is at fault. Cappelli found that mostly they're not complaining about lack of academic skills but lack of work experience. A 2011 Accenture survey found only 21% of U.S. employees receiving any employer-provided formal training in the past five years. Cappelli asks, 'Does it make sense to keep vacancies unfilled for months to avoid having to give new hires with less-than-perfect skills time to get up to speed?'

Other employers' complaints were simply rooted in the fact that they didn't want to pay the wages needed to hire.

The author contends that one reason employers now take so long to fill vacancies is that they realize it might pay to wait for someone perfect or even overqualified for the job, not merely qualified, or to see who will do it at wages well below market rate.

Lower unemployment rates for college graduates comes from the fact that they can also do the jobs only requiring a high school degree, possibly even better. The proportion of overqualified employees (at least three more years of education than required) is about 3X greater than that underqualified, and the proportion of overqualified has more than doubled over the past generation.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jun 12, 2012 9:40:08 AM PDT
Yoda says:
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

Posted on Jul 8, 2012 1:28:31 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 8, 2012 1:43:07 AM PDT
R. C. Roper says:
As to your question, "Why would an employer waste time training when they have 100 people breaking down the door asking for jobs?" Simple: It wouldn't be a waste at all. Waiting for an employee who already knows everything about the job doesn't seem to be working out for them, does it?

I don't see what's "Marxist" about the book or this review. Blaming a company for a problem it caused for itself does not constitute Marxism, and your personal responsibility argument is true for *both* sides of the hiring process. I do understand that left-leaning policies originally intended to protect workers from being fired have gone full circle and made it too risky to hire them in the first place. That doesn't change the fact that companies are unrealistically expecting employees to come directly "off the rack" as a perfect fit.

The book and this review simply state that perhaps companies and their HR managers should approach getting a new employee the same way that they approach getting a new suit. When you buy a suit, you get something close enough to what you want (fabric, size, style) and then you spend a few bucks to get it altered to a perfect fit. Demanding that new employees already have the exact company-specific skills before even considering them is no more sensible than expecting a new piece of clothing to come perfectly tailored.

The book, and you'll realize this if you forgo the O'Reilly Factor for the one hour it takes to read it, does not claim that companies need to be more self-sacrificial for the one-sided benefit of the working class. It argues that companies will get good employees faster and make more profits if they just go ahead and hire inexact matches for their open positions instead of waiting for months to find some magical non-existent perfect fit. The result would be a combination of greater corporate profits, higher overall national production, and lower unemployment. Everybody would win.

If you spend your whole life waiting for a wealthy supermodel with a medical degree who shares all of your quirky and esoteric interests, you'll die alone and bitter. Peter Capelli's book says exactly this, and nothing more.
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