by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
The latest Manpower survey shows a whopping 40% of U.S. employers complaining of a talent shortage. The hardest jobs to fill, as in past years, are skilled trades–a reminder that we sorely need vocational schools and community colleges more in sync with 21st-century employer demands.
Perhaps nowhere in America is that skills gap more painfully felt than in Michigan. Yes, Michigan–home to a bankrupt metropolis and the eighth-highest unemployment rate in the country. Already the auto industry says it has a growing need for workers trained in mechatronics–a field that combines mechanical, electrical, and computer engineering. It’s not unheard-of for a 23-year-old without a college degree to earn $90,000 and travel the world programming robots.
But Michigan is having trouble recruiting workers with the right vocational skills and college degrees. Detroit may churn out increasingly high-tech vehicles–portals on wheels, if you will–but young people see the “hot” careers elsewhere: the New York-Boston corridor, the Southeast, and the Bay Area, according to a new survey commissioned by the Detroit Chamber of Commerce. …
… Today’s top talent values flattened hierarchies, teamwork, and open-plan workspaces. With the exception of Quicken Loans, with its brazenly colorful headquarters, such work environments are rare in the Motor City. And young people aren’t as emotionally tied to cars as they once were. They rent Zipcars or call ride-sharing services when they need a lift. This attitude shift isn’t just hurting sales. It’s a potential recruitment problem.
Another attribute of today’s “top talent”? They haven’t been sitting in a lecture hall for the past four years listening to soliloquies about ancient Chinese pottery. They’ve been learning useful skills.