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Skills Mismatch Problem May Need Human Touch to Solve

July 30, 2012

by Frank Lenk:

There was an article in The Atlantic recently on the myth of America’s “skills mismatch” problem. The author puts the “skills mismatch” back on the employers who have gone to extensive and often automated screening processes (as well as low pay) to essentially self-limit the number of potential candidates.

I read this earlier, and like my colleague Jeff Pinkerton, thought it had some truth to it.  To me, the problem is with so many people looking for work, employers are used to being very picky. Plus, they have downsized and don’t have the staff to weed through lots of resumes.   So they turned to these automated systems that don’t really understand what they are reading and only are able to look for key words and phrases and lots of people get screened out before a human sees their resume.

Now that, at least in some fields, there is a labor shortage, it will behoove them to start applying human intelligence to the resumes, not just machine intelligence. Maybe HR is a new growth occupation?? My guess is that it will be awhile before businesses start hiring back middle-managers to do this kind of thing, though.

The problem remains in fields like IT that even after a human weeds through the resumes there are still few with skills to be productive right away.  Then they need a longer term strategy, and that is where improvements to the workforce system can have value.  I envision a future where businesses scout for talent in the high schools and middle schools, sign them up to play on “farm teams” to grow the talent until their “players” are ready for the “major leagues.”

Maybe sports is reality after all…

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. scottangle permalink
    July 30, 2012 7:52 pm

    I’m not totally convinced by the employer pickiness argument to explain simultaneous high unemployment and job vacancy numbers. I do think it may be one of a number of contributing factors, including industry-specific skills mismatches.

    To the extent that employers are growing increasingly picky, and to the extent that HR shortages and automated systems are a reason for that pickiness, this suggests a strategy for the workforce system. We should offer our services as a low- or no-cost human alternative to those ineffective and ultimately inefficient automated systems.

  2. July 30, 2012 9:45 pm

    Good point. After not finding the candidates they need using an automated system, you would think companies would eventually go back to the resumes to see if they are missing something, or are being too stringent.
    I like your idea of offering a candidate “hunting” system.

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