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These comments are responses to the Civic Caucus interview with

Jennifer Homer, vice president, Association for Talent Development (ATD)
August 21, 2015

Employers nationally can't find enough skilled talent

Overview

Today's interview with Jennifer Homer, vice president, Association for Talent Development (ATD), highlights a major concern of employers nationally, finding skilled talent. More than four out of five employers struggle with finding the qualified employees they need, according to ATD data.
Minnesota finds itself competing with all states to retain and attract the workforce needed to grow its economy.
While the state has many advantages, including low unemployment, many companies with headquarters here and highly respected colleges and universities, the job isn't easy, what with many young Minnesotans attracted elsewhere.

Employer and employee groups, education institutions and government entities must collaborate fully with one another to assure they are pulling in the same direction, according to Homer.
Significant assets for Minnesota, Homer said, are its workforce centers located statewide and efforts of the Governor's Workforce Development Council to further strengthen those centers.

 

For the complete interview summary see: Homer 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. MN cannot be satisfied. innesota cannot afford to be self-satisfied with its current position as a leading state in economic strength.

 

4. Finding talent enormously hard. Employers are finding it enormously difficult to hire the talent they need.

 

5. States competing for talent. Moreover, Minnesota and other states are intensively competing with one another trying to attract the same top talent.

 

6. Attraction elsewhere a problem. While the state has many advantages, including low unemployment, many companies with headquarters here and highly respected colleges and universities, the job isn't easy, what with many young Minnesotans attracted elsewhere.

 

7. Collaboration essential. This means that Minnesota's employer and employee groups, education institutions and government entities must collaborate fully with one another to assure they are pulling in the same direction.

 

8. Workforce centers important assets. A significant asset for Minnesota are its workforce centers located statewide and efforts of the Governor's Workforce Development Council to further strengthen those centers.

 

Response Distribution:

Strongly disagree

Moderately disagree

Neutral

Moderately agree

Strongly agree

Total Responses

1. Topic is of value.

0%

25%

13%

50%

13%

8

2. Further study warranted.

0%

0%

25%

63%

13%

8

3. MN cannot be satisfied.

0%

0%

0%

63%

38%

8

4. Finding talent enormously hard.

0%

14%

14%

71%

0%

7

5. States competing for talent.

0%

0%

0%

88%

13%

8

6. Attraction elsewhere a problem.

0%

13%

25%

63%

0%

8

7. Collaboration essential.

0%

0%

0%

63%

38%

8

8. Workforce centers important assets.

13%

13%

13%

63%

0%

8

 

Individual Responses:

Kevin Edberg  (7.5)  (7.5)  (10)  (7.5)  (7.5)  (5)  (7.5)  (5)

 1. Topic is of value. Clearly there are emerging themes from most recent interviews.  Jobs are changing rapidly due to emergence of new technology/new markets; flexibility in learning new skills by existing employees is needed; direct engagement of employers with job training providers is a good thing.  Where else do we have a "center of gravity" in the diverse conversations?

 

2. Further study warranted. I appreciated that the pay issue was raised.  ("If employers paid more, wouldn't the skills gap be lessened?").  Unfortunate that the interviewee couldn't/wouldn't respond.  Please keep asking interviewees about this.  We have a fundamental issue of a market not working and classic market responses not being used. A related issue is the rate of change in employers' needs, and employers' willingness to make sustainable and long term investments in both training and in loyalty to employees. We are fundamentally talking about shared commitments between employees and employers, and that relationship is viewed very differently today than 20-30 years ago.  (I attribute that to a narrowing of the corporate understanding of shareholders vs. stakeholders, but there are a number of other related factors).

 

3. MN cannot be satisfied. As Civic Caucus has, I believe, correctly identified, the quality of human capital is what sustains our way of life in Minnesota.  Constant attention needs to be given this theme.

 

4. Finding talent enormously hard. At what price? I still haven't seen the effective rebuttal to Dr. Cappelli's thesis. In relatively free markets, demand and supply of labor balance at a price (which includes salary, benefits, culture, quality of community life, etc.).  We cannot have a thoughtful discussion about quantity of labor demanded being out of balance with the quantity of labor supplied without talking about price (wages).  

 

5. States competing for talent. There are limits to the argument, and [it] can be taken to illogical extremes. ("Competition for top executive talent" is the reason given for skyrocketing corporate pay, even when not particularly linked to actual organizational performance, for example).  Yes, Minnesota competes with other places, in the US and globally.  But the quantity of "top talent" is expandable, and not permanently fixed.

 

6. Attraction elsewhere a problem. Can we recap what we know about the retention/gain/loss of talent, and Minnesota's track record in the region?

 

7. Collaboration essential. There are clearly shared interests. What is the stated social contract that underpins that shared interest and presumed investment?

 

Michael     (2.5)  (7.5)  (7.5)  (5)  (7.5)  (2.5)  (10)  (2.5)

 2. Further study warranted. Unfortunately I only remember part of the information from an article about companies developing their employees. Many years ago, 85% of jobs were filled internally. Today less than 50% are filled internally. This clearly shows that employers are not investing in their employees to get them ready to be promoted. That is a topic for future discussions. Currently employers don't want to train new employees. They only want to hire people with 5+ years experience. In the 1950s-1980s, Fortune 500 companies hired lots of college graduates and trained them for 6 months to 2 years, then kept training them. Every senior executive's performance review included an evaluation about how good a job he/she was doing training their staff to be ready to be promoted. Future topics: Why don't companies train their employees to be promotable?  Why do companies hire more people externally than they did 20 years ago?  How do companies get reputations as bad places to work?  How do companies with bad reputation as places to work change so people want to work there?

 

4. Finding talent enormously hard. Employers are having a hard time hiring talent because they no longer develop their own talent internally. Because of high turnover, poor working conditions, disrespecting employees, etc., some companies develop bad reputations as places to work.   As a result, the good and great employees stay away from those companies.  I know of 2 Fortune 500 type companies in the Twin Cities that have a reputation as bad places to work. I read that only 15% of Amazon workers have been with the company over 5 years. Amazon works its people too hard [and] over stresses them. As a result, people leave after 2-4 years.

 

7. Collaboration essential. Are high school guidance/career counselors promoting well paying skilled trade positions or are they telling all students to go to college to get ahead?   

 

8. Workforce centers important assets. From what I have seen and heard, the workforce centers work mostly with unskilled job seekers and entry level jobs. They are not working to train people [to] they have the skills employers are looking [for].

 

Anonymous   (7.5)  (7.5)  (7.5)  (2.5)  (7.5)  (7.5)  (7.5)  (0)

 4. Finding talent enormously hard. Too often these comments are a prelude to the next claim, [that] we need more H1B visas, which is absolute joke.  H1B visas have nothing to do with skills, only cost of employees.  

 

5. States competing for talent. Businesses within Minnesota are competing for talent; I don't see the state of Minnesota competing.  

 

6. Attraction elsewhere a problem. Sorry to say this, but weather isn't an attraction.  It is harder to attract talent from other parts of the country due to the weather.  It is easier to retain talent as people born in Minnesota and surrounding states are less concerned about it.  

 

7. Collaboration essential. The occasional press conference or announcement does little to build relationships.  

 

8. Workforce centers important assets. I have not had one business owner, not a single one, mention the Workforce Development Centers ever.  They mention local technical and community colleges, but not the Centers.  Not a single one, ever.  That should tell you the real story.  

 

Tom Spitznagle  (5)  (5)  (10)  (7.5)  (10)  (5)  (10)  (7.5)

 8. Workforce centers important assets. Judging from all of the various organizations Civic Caucus has interviewed in past years, both public and private, there appears to be an overabundance of resources devoted to analyzing workforce needs, designing and operating programs to attract people to specific types of skills training including those focused on minority groups, etc.  Overall, it seems like a random approach that involves much overlap between participating organizations - not much coordination overall, but some isolated examples of good cooperation. I wonder how efficient this approach is and what can be done to improve it.

 

George Sandy  (na)  (na)  (na)  (na)  (na)  (na)  (na)  (na)

 Need to cut welfare and make a plan to educate welfare recipients and get them off public assistance. There not anything physically wrong with a good number of these people.  Society has given them an excuse to be lazy and then rewards them.

 

Wayne Jennings  (10)  (10)  (10)  (8)  (9)  (8)  (10)  (8)

 Again a report on a dire future of insufficiently prepared workers, particularly disaffiliated youth and immigrants. I don’t see enough recognition of this issue among key agencies like K-12 and higher education. These continue to plod along the same ineffective paths of standard curricula which students find mostly boring and irrelevant. Example: Students enter community colleges and continue to take the same kind of academic courses they had in high school. Many students weren’t good at academics and drop out, thus losing a great opportunity to reach and educate them in practical areas that businesses beg for: communication/interpersonal skills, managerial/supervisory skills and critical thinking and problem solving (cited in this interview). These are not hard to teach but won’t be learned in another history, literature or math class. As for basic skills or reading, writing and arithmetic, these are also fairly easily taught but not through conventional courses. Yanking kids around in the “rigor” of algebra I and II, Shakespeare and predicate nominatives wastes time and drive for all but about 10-20% of students. That small percentage aided by college requirements dominates the much larger majority who then come to think of themselves as dumb. What a shame.

 

Lyall Schwarzkopf  (4)  (5)  (8)  (7)  (7)  (7)  (9)  (6)

 

Chuck Lutz  (7)  (6)  (8)  (8)  (9)  (8)  (9)  (9)

Paul Hauge  (9)  (7)  (8)  (na)  (7)  (8)  (7)  (9)

 

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The Civic Caucus   is a non-partisan, tax-exempt educational organization.   The Interview Group  includes persons of varying political persuasions,
reflecting years of leadership in politics and business. Click here  to see a short personal background of each.

  John S. Adams, David Broden, Audrey Clay, Janis Clay, Pat Davies, Bill Frenzel, Paul Gilje (Executive Director), Randy Johnson, Sallie Kemper, Ted Kolderie,
Dan Loritz (Chair), Tim McDonald, Bruce Mooty, John Mooty, Jim Olson, Paul Ostrow, Wayne Popham, Dana Schroeder, Clarence Shallbetter, and Fred Zimmerman

 

 

 


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The Civic Caucus, 01-01-2008
2104 Girard Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55405.  civiccaucus@comcast.net
Dan Loritz, chair, 612-791-1919   ~   Paul A. Gilje, coordinator, 952-890-5220.
 

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