Workforce futurist Edward Gordon and I have a lot in common and for many years now, each of us has been sounding a loud alarm for employers to hear: 'A labor crisis is coming'.
According to the Washington Post, in August, 4.3 million people voluntarily left their jobs; that is about 2.9 percent of the labor force. In the US alone, there are now 9 million people looking for work and officially 10.8 million employer vacancies.
This Herman Trend Alert details the latest research from Gordon and his partner Elaine, including his ambitious plan to possibly get us out of it.
How We Got Here
We, at the Herman Group, always thought of ourselves as the Paul Reveres of the workforce doing our best to alert employers to the impending labor crisis.
Clearly, not enough listened. Misguided companies decimated or eliminated their training functions, the US government curtailed immigration, and way too many US employers chose to look away while the skills crisis continued to grow. They let go thousands of workers who were great at operating the machines of the past but had not chosen to embrace the technologies which had become so integral to manufacturing.
Some of these folks were replaced by Baxter and the robots from Sisu located in my hometown of Austin. Part of the problem is that currently, robots can only do some of the work that is needed. Chatbots are typically not very effective and humans needed either do not want to do the work (in some cases for the money offered) or are incapable.
A Serious (and Existential) Situation
On top of this skilled worker crisis, the COVID 19 to 21 Pandemic caused many childcare facilities to close their doors. But that is only the beginning: COVID continues to plague some parts of the US, with thousands of people still dying every day. We are clearly not out of the woods yet.
Plus, if you have been reading my work over the last months, you already know that there has also been a values shift. People who pre-Pandemic were happy to work shifts and weekends and put themselves and their families second, are now rethinking their choices.
Over 10.8 million job openings (Gordon believes the number is closer to 12) are causing restaurants to limit their hours or even remain closed for whole days. I recently asked the proprietor of a Menchie's yogurt shop in Massachusetts why he was only going to be open for four days a week and his response---just as I had expected---was, "I can't get the help."
But Wait, There's More...
According to the Gordons, by the year 2030, only 30 percent of all jobs in the US---50 million---will be low-skilled. However, there will be 110 million low-skilled workers with limited math and reading skills. That means, we will have a surplus of 60 million people!
At the next level, we will have 128 million jobs that will require mid-to-high skills and only 56 million people qualified to fill these jobs. That's a shocking deficit of 72 million jobs that will go unfilled or filled by unqualified people.
Not surprisingly, by that same year, 2030, the Gordons expect the Baby Boomer generation of 79 million to be fully retired. (I'm not so sure about that, because I think the Baby Boomers define themselves by what they do and many will never want to completely retire, even though they will be their 80s.)
An Ambitious Plan for Employers
According to the Gordons, what's needed is an interlocking delivery system for education and training. We need to have shared responsibility between the family, business, and community. Community and industry service organizations have a large part to play, including Chambers of Commerce and other organizations of local business leaders. Trade associations also have a part of to play.
Even governments have a part to play in changing accounting rules to give tax breaks for companies willing to engage in the in-depth training needed. We need to rebuild the talent system with what the Gordons call, "RETAINS" (REgional TAlent Innovation Networks). Public-private partnerships that support this entire school to work to lifelong learning continuum.
It starts with Awareness that there is a problem; most employers are intimately aware that there is a problem, however maybe others are not yet? Second come Alignment; we must have all the players aligned to address the issue. And third is Action; without acting, the situation will simply become worse.
It Won't Happen Overnight
Gordon adds that fixing this situation will not happen quickly. There are many groups to be engaged and actions to be taken before we will see real progress. We will all need to be patient and focused to see a turnaround.
I would add, if we all do not raise the alarm, the situation will only deteriorate. The US is already losing many aspects of the technology race; this country cannot afford to ignore this continuing wake-up call. We do so at our own peril!
To download the Gordons new Red Alert Paper, Job Shock: Moving Beyond The Covid-19 Employment Meltdown To A New Skilled Talent Decade, visit here. Thank you Ed and Elaine for your gift of this important work!
© Copyright 1998-2021 by The Herman Group of Companies, Inc., all rights reserved. From 'The Herman Trend Alert,' by Joyce Gioia, Strategic Business Futurist. (800) 227-3566 or www.hermangroup.com
The Herman Trend Alert is a trademark of The Herman Group of Companies, Inc. Reprinted with permission.