Why do millions of willing-to-work Americans remain unemployed?
Or remain trapped in part-time, no-benefits jobs far below their levels of education and experience?
A major reason: The refusal of Congressional Republicans to create job opportunities for their fellow Americans.
U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I, Vermont) made just that argument to guest host Ezra Klein on the June 12, 2012 edition of “The Rachel Maddow Show.”
SANDERS: Everybody knows you have to invest in infrastructure. We can create millions of decent paying jobs in the long term and I speak as a former mayor, you obviously save money because you don’t have to do constant repairs as we’ve just seen.
The simple reason is I’m afraid that you have a Republican mindset that says, “Hmm, let`s see, we can repair the infrastructure, save money long time, create millions of jobs, bad idea. Barack Obama will look good. And we’ve got to do everything that we can to make Barack Obama look bad.”
Another reason for America’s unemployment miseries: Many employers have designed “hiring” systems that simply don’t work.
So says Peter Cappelli, the George W. Taylor professor of management at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. He is also the author of Why Good People Can’t Get Jobs: The Skills Gap and What Companies Can Do About It.
Employers often whine that they can’t find the talent they need. Today’s applicants, they claim, lack skills, education and even a willingness to work.
The truth is altogether different. According to Cappelli, the fault lies with employers, not job-seekers:
- Hiring managers create wildly inflated descriptions of the talents and skills needed for openings: “They ask for the moon.”
- Computer technology eliminates many qualified people for consideration when their resumés don’t match the inflated qualifications demanded by employers.
- Employers aren’t willing to pay for the education and skills they demand: “What they really want is someone young, cheap and experienced.”
- Online applicants are often told to name a salary expectation. Anyone who names a salary higher than what the company is willing to pay is automatically rejected. There’s no chance to negotiate the matter.
- About 10% of employers admit that the problem is that their desired candidates refuse to accept the positions at the wage level being offered.
- Employers are not looking to hire entry-level applicants right out of school. They want experienced candidates who can contribute immediately with no training or start-up time.
- Employers demand that a single employee perform the work of several highly skilled employees. One company wanted an employee to be an expert in (1) human resources, (2) marketing, (3) publishing, (4) project management, (5) accounting and (6) finance.
- When employers can’t find the “perfect candidate” they leave positions open for months. But if they were willing to offer some training, they might easily hire someone who could quickly take on the job.
- Companies have stopped hiring new college graduates and grooming them for management ranks. They no longer have their own training and development departments. Without systems for developing people, companies must recruit outsiders.
- Employers’ unrealistic expectations are fueled partly by their own arrogance. With more than three jobless people for every opening, employers believe they should be able to find these “perfect people.”
According to Cappelli, the hiring system desperately needs serious reform:
- Review job descriptions. If they’re inflated, bring them down-to earth.
- Don’t expect to get something for nothing–or next to it. Offer competitive salaries.
- Scrutinize the hiring process. Make sure that the automated systems aren’t screening out qualified candidates simply because they don’t have all the brass buttons in a row.
- Beef up the Human Resources section.
A 1996 cartoon by Ted Rall, the no-holds-barred cartoonist–entitled “Something for Nothing”–brilliantly sums up how most corporate “job creators” actually regard and treat their employees and applicants:
Cappelli worries that the complaints about a labor shortage caused by an unwilling, unskilled workforce will be repeated enough that they will be accepted as truth:
“It’s a loud story … that could become pernicious if it persists. It does have a blame-the-victim feeling to it. It makes people feel better. You don’t have to feel so bad about people suffering if you think they are choosing it somehow.”
But America can end this national disaster–and disgrace.
A policy based only on concessions–such as endless tax breaks for hugely profitable corporations–is a policy of appeasement.
And appeasement only whets the appetite of those appeased for even greater concessions.
It is past time to hold wealthy and powerful corporations accountable for their socially and financially irresponsible acts.
This solution can be summed up in three words: Employers Responsibility Act (ERA).
If passed by Congress and vigorously enforced by the U.S. Departments of Justice and Labor, an ERA would ensure full-time, permanent and productive employment for millions of capable, job-seeking Americans.
And it would achieve this without raising taxes or creating controversial government “make work” programs.
Such legislation would legally require employers to demonstrate as much initiative for hiring as job-seekers are now expected to show in searching for work.