This is absolutely not meant to be a political statement – I try to stay neutral on my blog, LinkedIn, Twitter, and only let my hair down marginally on Facebook. All that said, something’s been bothering me.
I’m in recruiting – if anybody’s going to feel employment moving as part of their day-to-day, it’s us. My business is up 10% over last 2011, and 2011 was up 10% over 2010. That means one, simple thing: companies are feeling the pinch of hiring enough that they’re willing to pay a partner to help them out.
That’s not to say that it’s a free-for-all in hiring. The unemployment numbers speak to that. What it means is something more troubling. There’s a serious dearth of skilled IT workers in the US right now, and that’s driven by cuts in STEM over the past few decades, as well as our clamping down on H1Bs. Those now run out almost as soon as the year starts – to get new H1Bs, companies have to plan 6 months+ out and reserve enough for themselves. We’re going to see this trend continue, until one of two things happens:
A: Government and corporations get back into bed, and start skills-training programs like they have in places like Germany, which will eat into the pool of unemployed. Many – if not most – of the unemployed are simply unhirable in this economy, no matter what level or regulations are put on/ taken off of corporate America. Unhirable. Impossible to hire. Done. 8% unemployment for the long haul, GOP or Dems in control, I don’t care: these people will not get hired. Unless they acquire new skills.
B: The economy hits a breaking point, due to the lack of skilled workers. I have clients who are beginning to shelve products, because they can’t find the right workers. Clients who are at risk of passing up lucrative consulting assignments, because they don’t have enough talented engineers to do the work they’re being offered on a silver platter by clients who can’t hire the people to do the work internally. This simply cannot hold – the work is beginning to migrate to companies that are _truly_ offshore, incorporated in a foreign nation, being taxed by a different government, and employing people who will never migrate here.
Option B, quite bluntly, sucks. Option A is expensive, in the short term. Because it’s an investment – and those require costs up front. It means investing in education, nationally, by the one entity big enough and established enough to do so – that’s us. We the people. We, the government. If we can fund voc-techs, and amp up our community colleges, while partnering with local companies who will offer co-ops and some sort of promise of employment if the student performs well in their new skills training, I think we can do this thing. But, if we keep sniping back and forth about how “my guy’s Luke Skywalker, your guy’s Darth Vader” (when we all know both of them are Jar Jar Binks), we’re going to get stuck. Really stuck.