I’m fascinated by the changing employment market. I’m fascinated by education. And I’m absolutely fascinated by the crossover between the two. Any HR professional worth their salt (and there are more than you’d imagine) should be intrigued, concerned and curious about the changing landscape of skills and education.
Let me put it simply,
- If you’re a carpenter, you need to know that you’re going to get enough good quality wood.
- If you’re a butcher, you want to know where your meat is coming from.
- If you make wine, you care about the grapes.
Do we have a skills shortage, a skills deluge or a skill mix problem?
Well, probably a bit of all three.
I was taking part in an interview last week about over skilled and under utilised employees. I won’t take you through the whole thing, you have better things to do with your lives. But a couple of comments stuck in mind.
At the end the interviewer said to me, “thank you, it is great to hear from a company that recognised the presence of a skills mismatch. Most of the companies we’ve spoken to said they haven’t witnessed it.”
Really? My response was, “ask their employees what they think”.
The second was an observation that had been stuck in my brain for a while. When I talk to my colleagues in Germany, a large proportion of the HR people have a PhD. I can’t think of a single one in the UK. Clearly they are over skilled and over qualified. Or not?
I’m not sure there is any point to this. I’m not sure I have a great reveal to make or any insight to give, just more questions.
At a time when we are talking about a skills shortage.
Do we actually have more than we think? Is the labour market broken? Has immigration, the democratisation of tertiary education and the mobility of labour changed the rules of the game?
And are we all struggling to catch up?
The Labour Market in the UK is operating at maximum efficiency have no fears. Labour can be bought cheaply, can be hired on any manner of contract, has no concerted affiliation to trade unions and there is a vast surplus of unemployed.
The jobs that the UK Labour Market are forced to seek are either low paid, mind-numbingly boring dealing with the general public or low paid, mind-numbingly boring dealing with the problems of the former.
Successive Governments have, through policies of de-industrialisation, consciously cheapened and de-skilled the UK Labour Force. Some would argue that this was a result of one woman’s hatred of skilled and semi-skilled labour protecting their livelihoods.
Education should have nothing to do with work. It is up to employers to train and develop their workforce not the education system. Education is there to provide some indication to employers of the potential of job applicants for whatever job is being advertised.
Governments and employers are responsible for the operation and make-up of Labour Markets and they are also responsible for the type of jobs people in the Labour Market are expected to take.
For either the Government or the Employer’s to blame those in the Labour Market seeking work for the state of UK jobs, the skills required, low pay, and insecurity is yet another illusion.
No the UK Labour Market is operating just as Marx would predict.