Friday, July 2, 2010

Factories Ready to Hire, but Skilled Workers Scarce -

I had a couple of thoughts after reading this article on the front page of this morning's New York Times.

First, I think I read somewhere that 4 out of 10 jobs employing people today are in industries and specialities that did not exist at the beginning of the 21st century. The importance of continuing education - especially for those of us over 50 years old - remains crucial. In fact, the Center for Retirement Research has noted on several occasions that one of the main reasons that older workers have trouble finding work is the lack of relevant skills in today's workplace.

And, second, it is a sad statement on our education system when you read paragraphs like this (I have highlighted one section):

Here in this suburb of Cleveland, supervisors at Ben Venue Laboratories, a contract drug maker for pharmaceutical companies, have reviewed 3,600 job applications this year and found only 47 people to hire at $13 to $15 an hour, or about $31,000 a year.

The going rate for entry-level manufacturing workers in the area, according to Cleveland State University, is $10 to $12 an hour, but more skilled workers earn $15 to $20 an hour.

All candidates at Ben Venue must pass a basic skills test showing they can read and understand math at a ninth-grade level. A significant portion of recent applicants failed, and the company has been disappointed by the quality of graduates from local training programs. It is now struggling to fill 100 positions.

“You would think in tough economic times that you would have your pick of people,” said Thomas J. Murphy, chief executive of Ben Venue.

Factories Ready to Hire, but Skilled Workers Scarce -