Cappelli Interview Please take one minute to evaluate our website. Click here to take the survey.
It's completely false that there's a labor shortage facing the U.S. or Minnesota, says Peter Cappelli, professor of management at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. The U.S. population and the labor force are not shrinking, but continuing to grow. In fact, he says, the U.S. has never faced a worker shortage, except during WWII. And people are living longer and healthier and most people facing retirement would like to keep working in some way, he points out.
The real problem, Cappelli believes, is that there simply are not enough jobs to go around. And he says public policy or workforce planning, which is nearly impossible to do even five or 10 years into the future, will not solve the problem. He notes that the U.S. is not willing to do things other countries have done to attack the problem, such as subsidizing employment.
A barricade for many job seekers, he says, is that employers are increasingly demanding previous job experience before they will hire people. They no longer are willing to hire people with potential and train them on the job, as employers often did in the past. But Cappelli notes that coops and apprenticeships are in steep decline. And unpaid internships for college students are an expensive way to get job experience, since colleges charge tuition for the credits students are earning while working for free.
Where jobs are going unfilled, he asserts, it's often because employers aren't willing to pay enough to get the people they want. They want people who meet their increasingly difficult and specific requirements for the jobs they're trying to fill.
He believes we must get employers and schools closer together on the local level, so teachers can talk to work supervisors. What's actually taught in the classes and what's actually used on the job are what count, Cappelli says. He suggests that perhaps there could be public financial support for work-based learning programs at the local level.
For the complete interview summary see: Cappelli interview
Response Summary: Readers rated these statements about the topic and about points discussed during the meeting, on a scale of 0 (strongly disagree) to 5 (neutral) to 10 (strongly agree):
1. Topic is of value. The interview summarized today provides valuable information or insight.
2. Further study warranted. It would be helpful to schedule additional interviews on this topic.
3. Changing job requirements a challenge. Finding a job today is increasingly more difficult due to the fast pace of change in job content and required qualifications.
4. Need for experience is a barrier. Employers' emphasis on hiring only people who already have experience, which few young people have been able to obtain, make it even more difficult for job seekers to qualify.
5. Opportunities for work experience declining. But opportunities for young job-seekers to get job experience--such as coops, apprenticeships and internships--are declining at the same time as companies are increasingly unwilling to hire people with potential and train them on the
6. Wages not sufficiently attractive. When employers claim they are unable to fill vacant jobs, it's often because they are unwilling to raise wages sufficiently to attract workers who meet their specific job requirements.
7. Problem unlikely resolved at national level. National organizations representing educators and employers are unlikely to be effective in solving these difficult employment problems.
8. Local collaboration required. Instead, these problems should be addressed at the local level, where local employers and local schools work together to develop solutions.
Kevin Edberg (10) (7.5) (10) (7.5) (7.5) (10) (7.5) (7.5)
1. Topic is of value. This interview brings out (and supports with some analysis and data) what might be a contrarian view, or at least a more nuanced view, than has been present in earlier interviews on the relationships and needs of business, education, training organizations, and individuals.
2. Further study warranted. Following this strand of thought through a second interview should help refine the thinking about what's appropriate policy for MN.
3. Changing job requirements a challenge. In my personal life, I have had two careers to date that I have very much enjoyed. I didn't know either one of them even existed when I was in college in the late 70s/80s. This has only become more challenging as the nature of technology and business change jobs faster than we can design for.
5. Opportunities for work experience declining. This supports the comments from early interviewees on apprenticeships and internships.
6. Wages not sufficiently attractive. Mr. Cappelli is about the only interviewee to date that reconciles the conundrum in our marketplace observations about skilled jobs going unfilled [and at the same time] stagnant wages.
Robert Jacobs (0) (0) (0) (0) (10) (0) (10) (0)
6. Wages not sufficiently attractive. Cost of government intervention and progressive education in all cases of employers is stifling growth.
Further general comments: Peter Cappelli has the usual progressive intellectual pedigree and high exposure to institutionalized research on subject matter not of personal experience. Try being an employer. They are the ones who create jobs. Not government interventionists such as yourself. Robert Jacobs, Self Employed General Contractor (carpenter) with no employees.
Bruce Lundeen (10) (10) (10) (5) (7.5) (5) (7.5) (2.5)
1. Topic is of value. This is the best public policy/jobs interview yet.
2. Further study warranted. But truly enlightened and informed experts like Cappelli are hard to find.
3. Changing job requirements a challenge. "The fast pace of change in job content and required qualifications" indicates that the jobs are not out there. There are more willing to work than there are jobs. This is the crisis of major significance.
5. Opportunities for work experience declining. Institutions of higher education, responding to student demand, do not emphasize the sorts of jobs where coops, apprenticeships, and internships excel.
6. Wages not sufficiently attractive. Of course, employers are unwilling to pay the wage the applicants want. The applicants do not have the skills necessary, and because of the structure of educational system applicants cannot get them. Programs are designed for full time students, not the changing workforce model of today. There needs to be more training opportunities for experienced workers. The questions presented by fail to address the problems of the worker who wishes to gain new skills. However, the interview does hint at the need for a more flexible workplace/training environment.
7. Problem unlikely resolved at national level. I believe the fault lies largely on the educators who build institutions based on 4-year credentials, when the breadth of education required to fill many jobs does not require a broad education. However, the communication and relationship-building skills of a broad education are pointed out.
Further general comments: There are not enough jobs to go around for everyone who would want to work. I would like Civic Caucus to find an interviewee who might back up the postulate I suggest that apprenticeships, licensing, and labor organizations actually limit skills improvement and qualification additions for the sake of improving existing member salary and benefits. That is, the objective is to improve the pay and benefits of the existing worker by controlling the gaining of skills by new and younger workers. How long would it take to repair the Snelling Ave. overpass or the cross-town 35W project if the number of qualified and trained workers were doubled? I suspect this is how minorities are kept out of the workplace.
Jerry Fruin (10) (7.5) (7.5) (7.5) (10) (7.5) (5) (7.5)
William McGaughey (10) (10) (10) (10) (10) (10) (10) (7.5)
1. Topic is of value. The best summary from you that I have ever read.
Tom Spitznagle (7.5) (7.5) (10) (10) (7.5) (5) (7.5) (10)
Dave Broden (5) (2.5) (10) (2.5) (0) (2.5) (0) (10)
1. Topic is of value. Good content but nothing really strong in terms of something new or a interesting theme.
2. Further study warranted. Human Resource expertise is valuable but needs to better connected with [reality], which this person was thought to be but the discussion did not confirm in my mind.
3. Changing job requirements a challenge. Definitely true and needs focus. But how is Human Resources Connected and what are they doing to help or should be doing?
4. Need for experience is a barrier. The lack of experience has always been a factor. I do not see why this topic is suddenly a barrier. Companies will work with a strong employee to help him acquaint with the job. Another example of making a problem out of proportion.
5. Opportunities for work experience declining. This is impossible to answer since it is a multi- dimensional question with more questions than answers.
6. Wages not sufficiently attractive. Have we all forgotten that a starting salary is only a start and workers earn the right to a higher wage with experience and demonstrated performance? For some reason, …growth and experience do not seem to be linked. Everyone wants the upper pay grade without earning it.
7. Problem unlikely resolved at national level. Define the problem; remove barriers; solve the problem.
8. Local collaboration required. Problems must be solved at all levels.
Wayne Jennings (10) (10) (9) (9) (9) (8) (8) (9)
His comment about what schools teach and the variance with what employers want rings true. Lauren Resnick, learning expert at the U of Pittsburgh found this to be the case. Workers developed their own protocols there were efficient and effective but different from what schools offered. Hence the need for partnerships.
Fred Zimmerman (4) (8) (3) (2) (6) (1) (5) (9)
Professor Cappelli is reaching his conclusions based on quantitative, rather than qualitative, information. Sure we have enough people. The problem is that many of them are not good for very much. In order to make the substantial [investment] that one takes on in hiring an employee, employers are going to want capable people willing to learn, who have good work habits, wholesome attitudes, and acceptable behaviors. Due to today’s declining family structures and weak, unchallenging, education systems, many of today’s applicants lack the basic attributes employers are looking for. The search for better employees is prompting even well meaning employers to gradually transfer their operations to locations where the work force and the communities are generally perceived to be better.
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The Civic Caucus is a non-partisan,
tax-exempt educational organization. The Interview Group
includes persons of varying political persuasions,
S. Adams, David Broden, Audrey Clay, Janis Clay, Pat Davies, Bill
Frenzel, Paul Gilje (Executive Director), Randy Johnson, Sallie Kemper, Ted
© The Civic Caucus, 01-01-2008
2104 Girard Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55405. firstname.lastname@example.org
Dan Loritz, chair, 612-791-1919 ~  Paul A. Gilje, coordinator, 952-890-5220.