Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Capitalism and chronic tough jobs to fill.

I am a capitalist.  No if's, and's or buts.

Under capitalism, there should never be a prolonged period where a single job type is hard to fill.  Let's call this type of situation an "under-filled' job.   When this happens for an extended period of time (more than 4 years) in a capitalistic society, three things should occur.

  1. Salaries (including benefits) should go up, attracting more people.  Right away this delays retirement, and causes people with similar jobs to shift into the under-filled jobs.  At worst, after four years, newly trained people should start to show up at a greater rate, as more people choose to study those skills because of the greater pay rates.
  2. The job should be come more specialized with extra support.  That is, if you are a nurse, then suddenly you get an administrative assistant to fill out the paperwork.   Think of is outsourcing from the high skill to low skilled.  Note, this has limits, particularly at the high end.
  3. People move to under-filled areas.
 Recently the Manpower Group, released a survey of the hardest jobs to fill.

They also let you look back over the past seven years.  An interesting trend results.  Sales Representative is the only job that was present for all seven years.  They get paid per a percentage of sales.  The nature of their pay means that it doesn't make sense to pay them more.   But it does mean their jobs should be subdivided.  I.E.  Each Sales Representative should get more sales assistants.   This could both make their jobs easier to do, and also act as training for more sales representatives.

The fact that this hasn't happened demonstrates two things:  A) The market is not perfect, it takes time to change the structure.  B)  In particular, their are inefficiencies in sales that need to be addressed.  This is an opportunity for some bright eyed kid who comes up with a better way to sell things.

Next, were the three jobs that were under filled in six of the past seven years:  Engineers, Drivers, and Machinists.  Driver stands out as the least skilled job and lowest salary.  The problem is it is fairly easy to do but no one wants to keep the job.  It's a harsh job and they don't pay people enough to do it.  Literally.  That's why they need drivers.  But the various driver-less robot controlled car technology may very well make that job vanish in the next 10 years, otherwise I would be telling everyone to start paying their drivers more money.

Engineers and Machinists require much more skill.  It isn't that hard to raise their salary and frankly, I see no reason not to.  Not everyone can do these highly skilled jobs and f you can't hire one, that just means you are not paying them enough.  Raise their salaries.  Similar story for accounting and Technicians.

But Teachers, Nurses, IT Staff and Management positions were all under-filled in 4 out of the past 7 years.   Teachers have an issue with bad planning on school.  Really, do we really need to have all the kids take vacation at the same time?   Yeah, people like summers off - so do Computer Programers, but our boss isn't moronic enough to shut down the business for 3 months in a year.   Stagger the schedules, give some kids off summers, others winters, other spring, others fall.   Make it a condition of getting into the "elite magnet" schools that they have start in May, rather than September.  Teaching itself is a tough job - you need to expect high turnover in troubled schools - and pay people MORE to teach there.  

Nurses don't get paid enough.  Quite simple, people think of them as 'less' than doctors, and so refuse to pay them as much as doctors.  Forget that crap.  A good nurse is worth more than a bad doctor.

As for IT and management, they both suffer have a strange problem.  It's not about being trained, but about experience.  Worse, often the experience desired don't exist.   The worse cases are people asking for 10 years of experience for a field that was invented 9 years ago.  But even if it was invented 11 years ago, very few people got involved in the first year.   Frankly, when you ask for more than 2 years experience for technology that is under six years old, you are being unreasonable.  You should be training from within your company for that kind of job.   Otherwise, you have to pay a HUGE premium to hire away the only guy with the experience you want from the job he has and likes.   Similar issues occur with management, although not as obvious.  Everyone wants the top management jobs, but they have crappy standards for hiring - they want people with a proven track record - those people have jobs and want a lot of money.  Hire from within and train to fill the job for half the price.

But my main point is that capitalism is not a quick answer.  It takes three times as long to wait for the invisible hand of the market to fix something as is reasonable.  Mainly because it takes takes people as much time to notice a problem is real as it would to fix it, then that same amount of time again to convince people to fix the problem.

Capitalism does eventually fix things - but it takes way too long to do it.  It's why we need government to help things out.

What could government do? Not much for Sales Reps.  But we could offer special discounts for people getting engineering degrees and more X-Prizes for driver-less cars.  We can

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