Sunday, February 11, 2018

The So-Called "Skills Gap" Is Complete Bullshit

Another "skills gap" crusader:

LaSalle Network CEO Says There's a Huge 'Skills Gap'

Such a good little soldier for the privileged.

Too bad reality doesn't comport with that tripe.

The problem is, when we look closely at the data, this story doesn’t match the facts. What’s more, this view of the nation’s economic challenges distracts us from more productive ways of thinking about skills and economic growth while promoting unproductive hand-wringing and a blinkered focus on only the supply side of the labor market—that is, the workers.
A Recession-Era Economic Myth Goes Up In Smoke
Throughout the slow recovery, journalists from major papers made a cottage industry of finding CEOs complaining that their hiring searches were coming up empty. Conservative commentators chalked up high unemployment to a so-called “skills gap”: companies needed more qualified workers, they insisted, than were currently on offer. 
But something wasn’t right. If companies really needed qualified workers, why weren’t they raising wages to attract them? Or why weren’t they lowering their qualification standards or offering training to less experienced new hires? If companies really did have jobs that desperately required filling, they would have been working harder to fill them.
Don’t Blame A ‘Skills Gap’ For Lack Of Hiring In Manufacturing
This “skills mismatch” theory is a favorite of corporate executives and the think tanks they fund. But it is based on scant evidence. Individual companies may be struggling to fill specific jobs, but the data shows little sign of an industrywide shortage of skilled workers. In fact, it’s not clear that companies are really trying hard to fill many of these jobs at all.
Talk of a skills gap in the labor market is 'an incredible cop out'
But is there really a skills shortage? If so, why have median wages been stuck in a rut for so long? Why aren’t companies investing more in training and labor-saving equipment? Why aren’t they asking workers to work longer hours? It doesn’t add up, says Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, a liberal think tank in Washington.
Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman calls the skills gap a “zombie idea” that won’t go away despite being routinely debunked. The reason has less to do with ignorance than with power. After decades of rising inequality and an eroding labour share of income, the skills gap mythology downloads blame onto workers and costs onto government. Jim Stanford, writing in the pages of Academic Matters, puts it well: “According to this worldview, the biggest challenge facing our labour market is adjusting the attitudes, capabilities and mobility of jobless workers…The problem is with the unemployed.” The skills gap takes the onus off employers to pay decent wages and train workers, blaming labour market failings on workers instead.
For Further Reading:
The Zombie Skills Gap Meme That Won't Die

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