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US companies blame unemployment on skills gap


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Financial Times:

Drew Greenblatt has been looking for more than a year for three sheet-metal set-up operators to work day, night or weekend shifts.

The president of Marlin Steel Wire Products, a company in Baltimore with 30 employees, Mr Greenblatt says his inability to find qualified workers is hampering his business’s growth. “If I could fill those positions, I could raise our annual revenues from $5m to $7m,” he says.

He is offering a salary of more than $80,000 with overtime, including health and pension benefits. Yet in spite of extensive advertising, he has had no qualified applicants. He is trying to train some of his unskilled staff but says none has the ability or drive to complete the training.

Mr Greenblatt’s predicament speaks to one of the biggest economic debates about today’s 8.6 per cent US unemployment rate: is it merely a cyclical problem that will shrink as demand recovers? Or is it something deeper and more structural, a “mismatch” between the skills workers have and those companies need?

The idea there is something structurally wrong with the US workforce is controversial among economists but has a certain resonance with the public. Since the emergence of Japan as a technology and manufacturing powerhouse in the 1970s, Americans have been anxiousthat they were losing their competitive edge to better-educated, harder-working rivals.

What's wrong is that we have a generation raised on the idea that they can all be creative rather than productive and so go to college to get vanity degrees instead of learning something useful.
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