Clinton: Lots Of Jobs, Not Enough Skill

Bill Clinton appeared on Meet the Press this morning to talk about the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) and our current unemployment and jobs situation. He argued that there were millions of jobs available for immediate hire, but for two limiters: People upside-down on their mortgages and mismatched skills.

His argument has merit, but it seems to me that there's some hyperbole here. First of all, I'm not seeing a tremendous number of jobs where one can "go to work on Monday" here in California. As to the skills issues, it was instructive to review Susie's post from 2009 about what happens when there are too many applicants and not enough jobs.

The other annoying thing that happens during a recession is that employers start demanding all sorts of unrelated skill sets in one person (figuring they'll get them to do two jobs for the price of one). I'd advise you against taking a job like that even if it's offered - no matter how bad the economy is, it's not worth the heart attack you'll probably get.

There is also the unspoken, yet very real fact of ageism in the hiring stream:

Now, as a recruiter, I would never advise a candidate to do anything unethical or misleading. But as a human being, I can tell you: Remove any dates on your resume that indicate your age. Don't list every job you ever had, it only makes you look old. And don't put down "consultant" as your present employment (unless you work for a known consulting company) because most people will assume that means unemployed.

Jobs most in demand:

1. Skilled trades (mechanics, electricians, welders)
2. Sales representatives
3. Nurses
4. Technicians
5. Drivers
6. Restaurants, hotel staff
7. Management/executives
8. Engineers
9. Doctors
10. Customer support and service

Now you'd think that customer support and service, for example, would jump at the opportunity to hire a computer-skilled, savvy person who has worked in various aspects of support and service as well as built a small business on it before times got hard, right? Not so much. They'd rather contract out than hire, and they certainly don't want to hire someone who is over the age of about 30.

So with all due respect to Bill Clinton, I submit that this alleged "jobs gap" is really a way to take corporate America off the hook for a lack of flexibility, a stranglehold on jobs and concealed ageism.

Full transcript follows:

DAVID GREGORY: As you think about the world as President, you talked about globalization, the interconnectedness of our global economy and you look at the poverty that this country is going through. The poverty report that came out this week. More and more families going in to homeless shelters. Seven out of ten people who are out of work. How does C.G.I., in effect, address both that domestic need and put it together with the global needs?

BILL CLINTON: Well, this year, we're going to try to spend more time on the domestic needs by getting and generating support for people who are working to reach those folks with both jobs and with training. Let me just give you an example that's really chilling to me. And this is what I wish we'd have more talk about in the elections this year in America.

Where are the jobs gonna come from? Where is the money to finance 'em gonna come from? And can people do them? For the first time in my lifetime, David, we are coming out of recession with posted job openings. That is, tomorrow Monday, you could get that job. These jobs have been offered. They're going up twice as fast as job hires in this horrible economy. Why? Because of two things. First, over 10 million of our fellow citizens are living in homes that are worth less than their mortgages.

So, they can't move or their credit's ruined for life. We still need more efforts to fix that. And second, way the biggest problem, is there's a skill mismatch. The jobs that are being opened don't have qualified people applying for them. We need a system to immediately train them to move into that job. And I hope we'll have some commitments coming out on that.

There are five million people who could go to work tomorrow, if they were trained to do the jobs that are open, and the unemployment rate in America would immediately drop from 9.6 to about seven percent or 6.9. That would have a huge impact on America's psyche. That would happen if no bank makes another loan. If none of this other stuff goes on. We need to go to work on these things. And get some action there.


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