The mass creation of American jobs has been one of the most pivotal and compelling issues in political arenas during the last four years. The U.S. employment landscape has changed dramatically over the last few decades, and there is no going back. It is time to face reality, and take steps to move forward for success in the global economy.

During the national Vice Presidential debate on October 11, Republican candidate Senator Paul Ryan promised to create thousands of jobs for Americans. At first glance, this is the panacea we all wanted to hear. However, Mr. Ryan neglected to state how these jobs would be created, and what types and “quality” they would be. A “quality job” is not necessarily the career of one’s dream, yet it has traditionally been considered a stable occupation that affords reasonable access to the coveted middle-class lifestyle. This lifestyle has been enjoyed by many Americans for the past 60 years, but seems to be rapidly slipping away for far too many citizens.

Mr. Ryan’s speech would have been more realistic, albeit more confusing, and undoubtedly less popular, had he explained the harsh truths of the present American job crisis. For a variety of reasons, the creation of blue collar and unskilled jobs that have traditionally sustained much of our society no longer appears to be a viable economic possibility. A more successful and sensible approach our leaders can (should?) take is to squarely address the types of jobs that will actually be available, and more importantly, the necessary skill sets, training, and education Americans must have in order to compete for these occupations.

Einstein once stated that “one cannot fix a problem at the level at which it was created.” We cannot create millions of jobs at the unskilled level, because quite frankly, the economy will no longer prosper by these jobs. Most well-paying factory and warehouse jobs have become obsolete. Entry-level blue collar jobs no longer exist in significant numbers, as they have been outsourced to other countries. We can complain about outsourcing, but it is a fact of life in America. We are presently living in an economic dichotomy: Most of us want steady, good-paying jobs, yet we also tend to be shrewd consumers who want reasonably priced, massed-produced goods. Though we are a democratic society, we are still very much a capitalistic society. Our capitalistic corporate leaders derive great profit from outsourcing goods and labor. This has become the profitable tack to take for many years now.

A large section of the American public has clung nostalgically to a long-gone era. America’s long-term, unemployed citizens are actually the issue that should be addressed by our political leaders. We need an increasingly educated, trained, and flexible workforce to fill increasingly complicated and technical jobs that have become the predominant occupations in the western hemisphere. Even the majority of assembly jobs now require sophisticated technical training. By not acknowledging and addressing this “elephant in the room,“ we will continue to demand solutions that truly are no longer viable, and can possibly neglect strategies and innovations that could genuinely help our economy and provide quality, sustainable jobs.

Emerging Trends Ignored

America’s changing employment landscape is not a new phenomenon. Over 20 years ago while employed as a job counselor, I was responsible for the outplacement of a large lumber mill in Northern California. The lumber company provided jobs for generations of men in this small town, and then suddenly, it was closing forever. Obviously this situation was a horrible event for the generation of families affected by the closure. I remember distinctly our motto to the laid-off workers: “Never depend on a job for a life-time. The average worker will have five different careers in a life-time.” At that time, the prediction seemed a bit implausible. However, this prediction has increasingly come to fruition.

Coincidentally, at the same time as the lumber mill closure, a popular business magazine wrote an exposé about future jobs in America. The main point was that jobs would become increasingly complex, and in fact, it was estimated that 80% of the jobs in the next 20 years were not yet invented. At the time, that statement seemed to be such a preposterous prediction that I did not take it seriously, nor consider its far-reaching implications. On reflection, our job problems began in part, because many of us did not heed predictions and follow the emerging trends.

Staffing the New Global Economy

Who could have envisioned that the rampant introduction of computers and social media has not only changed our lifestyles, but has changed the way business is conducted on a global level. These changes have created an entire economy of careers based upon upgrading, coordinating, and creating global technology.

We may be able to solve the problem not by wishing things were the way they were, but by facing reality: the deficit in American human potential and capitol. Recent studies of successful countries outside the U.S. have analyzed various economic factors. A New York Times article by Thomas L. Friedman published March 11, 2012 entitled, “Pass the Books, Hold the Oil,” made the case that certain economically sophisticated and successful countries share a common denominator. Friedman explained that these countries, in particular Taiwan, while they lack substantial natural resources, they have invested heavily in their human capital. By focusing on continually educating their citizens, they have created a very talented, economically successful, and well employed society.

Closing the Talent Gap

Perhaps the United States can take lessons from these economically successful countries. Though we are abundant in natural resources and technology, we have fallen woefully behind in our education, skills, and job readiness to prepare our citizens to fill the complex jobs that will predominate. We must address this talent gap honestly if we hope to ever compete in the global marketplace. If we do not tackle this head on, no U.S. political leader will be able to improve our current global employment landscape.

We cannot speak of “good jobs” without training and education. They are intricately connected. Future well-paying jobs will be increasingly technically oriented and will demand some type of formal training. Reading, writing, communication, and math skills are increasingly becoming a prerequisite for most jobs. As parents, we cannot be in denial about these conditions. We would be setting our children up for certain failure and poverty if we do not encourage them to do everything they can to access the greatest amount of education and training possible. When the budgets of educational systems that have historically prepared a talented workforce are cut at the very same time in which are jobs depend upon this designated training, a national economic genocide will occur.

No Magic Bullet

Are there solutions to the complex employment crisis? There are, but unfortunately there is no magic bullet. Many Americans have a fantasy that someone of power will suddenly create jobs out of thin air, and droves of job seekers will be guaranteed not only a stable job, but a quality middle-class lifestyle. The days of large companies springing up and providing thousands of unskilled labor jobs are simply over; it is just not profitable. Americans must come to terms with the fact that there will be few employment opportunities for unskilled, under-trained, and uneducated workers. It seems to be a dirty little secret many of us simply do not want to admit.

The first step to a viable solution is to stop blaming our current commander in chief for our job crisis. It simply is not his fault. To his credit, President Obama has actually created jobs during his term. He realizes the critical link between education and gainful employment, andhas worked tirelessly to allow the ordinary American to have greater access to an education. A second critical step is to empower our communities to access business and employment opportunities nationally and globally. Technology enables us to create economically successful communities that exceed and transcend traditional employment opportunities.

 Let’s All Step Up

Another step that would move us forward is for Americans to take more responsibility for their career futures. Never has there been a time where resources and knowledge have been so available. We are in an era where few if any companies will guarantee life-time employment. In fact, temporary and contingent employment is a fact of life. Taking care of our minds, leading healthy lifestyles that prevent us from becoming society’s victims, pursuing life-time learning, and researching future trends will assist us all in creating and participating in a healthier and more lucrative employment environment.

We cannot expect either political candidate to solve all of our employment strife. We are going through a painful, but necessary learning curve. There is reason to believe that American is still the land of opportunity. Instead of demanding jobs, Americans can succeed by becoming experts at studying trends, and adapting and preparing for the economically-relevant employment opportunities of today and tomorrow.

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Is hiring on your test?

October 23, 2012

Employers: Is Hiring “on Your Test?”

Years ago I attended a motivational workshop and the keynote speaker’s presentation was entitled: “What’s on Your Test?” She told a story about high school kids daydreaming in class, until the teacher piped up and said, “And by the way, this will be on your test.”  Suddenly the students went from bored indifference to exhibiting alert and polite attention.  Her point was that we all have priorities, and you must give thought to what is important enough to be “on your test.”

As employers, we each have our priorities. There are some activities that we simply value more than others, and we give them our attention, time, and finances. Surprisingly, many of the most successful companies don’t have hiring duties on their test.

The process for hiring the correct employee can be deceptive. It seems so easy right? The references check out, the interview goes well, the candidate appears pleasant, it’s all pretty simple, right? I wish this were true, but the most expensive mistake any employer can make is hiring the wrong person. It can have profoundly negative effects on not only productivity, but on your staff morale, workers’ compensation injury rates and, ultimately, your company’s excellent reputation.

Hiring the Wrong Person is a Costly Mistake

Did you know that the cost associated with a receptionist who leaves before three months is $15,000? To prevent these costly hiring mistakes, it’s smart to put hiring back on the top of your list of test questions. That means seeking the appropriate experts at critical points in the process of advertising, recruiting, screening, and training. The average hire takes a manager 40 hours of preparation time involving phone calls, interviewing, and reference checks. Often these hires don’t work out, even with the best of intentions. This is not necessarily because of “bad employees,” it is usually more a matter of an improper fit, which results in poor employee performance and/or conduct. An improper fit originally occurs due to a lack of preparation, follow up, and structure in the hiring process.

Put Hiring on Your Test

So how can you make your hiring process the most profitable and rewarding for all parties involved? First of all, avoid making hiring decisions in an emergency and hurried state.  The adage, “A stitch in time saves nine” is so true when it comes to successful hiring. After you’ve put hiring on your “test,” consult with an expert and decide together what services would help you to hire your ideal candidate.

Outsourcing the hiring function is almost always a wise investment in terms of time, money, and resources. These tasks are simply too time consuming for the typical manager that has numerous other job tasks to attend.  The consultant should be able to make the decision-making process as stress-free and accurate as possible.

A reputable placement consultant can be your trusted liaison in the recruitment and retention process. Look to your consultant to:

  • Listen carefully to your present needs, your past challenges, as well as your overall company goals
  • Conduct several interviews
  • Administer job-specific assessments and check several references
  • Determine what hiring option would be the most beneficial to you at this specific time. Perhaps you are not ready for a full-time, permanent employee.  Discuss other suitable options, such as temporary assistance or contract assignment workers.

Ultimately, putting the hiring process on the front burner, and putting it “on your test” will give you hours of extra time to do your actual job. By doing so, you are more likely to enjoy peace-of-mind, and a talented, stable, reliable, and happy workforce.

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Next Friends Over Lunch Meeting

August 16, 2012

I recommend this group for women and men entrepreneurs.  Here’s  link to sign up.  

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how to start your own job club-empower and enrich your job search possibilities

March 30, 2012

There is power in numbers! Are you planning to re-enter the job market or would you like to upgrade your career? Plan on attending an introduction career search club. This will be an informational, positive, professional environment full of possibilities and potential opportunities. Please come prepared to start you new career journey. If you are […]

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