Shortages are Regional

On September 11, 2014, in HR Trends, HRExaminer, John Sumser, Regionalization, by John Sumser

STEM-200pxOf the 280,000 people who graduate from college each year with a STEM credential, only about 180,000 get jobs. More than a third can not find technical work.

Of the people who hold STEM related jobs , 80% do not have appropriate credentials. Many, like me, get their tech training on the job. (I became an engineer with a philosophy degree.) While there are indeed some very precise specialties, engineering is a problem solving mindset.

Good tech people can move gracefully between roles. The so called tech shortages are often the result of hiring authorities who are inflexible.

The idea that an employee should show up ready to work with her own tools (Bring Your Own Device) is a symptom of a failure to invest in the workforce. Very few people can show up and work without training and orientation.

The mythical perfect candidate who jumps immediately to productivity is very wishful thinking.

Some of the “shortage” is a capitalization problem. Potential employees are being blamed for their potential employers unwillingness to make investments in equipment and people. Until the 90s, American firms were famous for their willingness to provide mentoring and OJT.

Now, not so much

Of course, like any generalization, my analysis is flawed. It doesn’t apply in every case. Multiple complex factors create a massive STEM shortage in Sonoma County where I live. The factors include the medical reimbursement rates and the county’s whiteness.

The tech jobs disappear because you can’t meet diversity requirements if you scale a company here. The medical talent disappears because the pay and financial potential are better in the next county.

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