The manpower crisis

Alfin on the search for skilled workers:

“There’s a tremendous shortage of skilled workers,” said Craig Giffi, a vice chairman of the consulting firm Deloitte. A recent survey it did found that 83% of manufacturers reported a moderate or severe shortage of skilled production workers to hire.

More than half of U.S. employers report having a hard time finding people to fill some of their most critical positions. Quite a few countries around the world are experiencing the same problem, according to a global survey by international employment agency, ManpowerGroup.

The “feminisation” — or dumbing down — of many formerly rigorous university studies programs has left employers doubtful of the quality of new college graduates. Even India finds that its industries must spend a great deal of money training fresh hires driectly out of school.

This shortage of skills — a human capital shortage, really — is adding a negative impact to the already dire situations of western nations coming from unwise policies of debt, demography, bureaucratic overreach, and energy starvation.

A 2008 Forbes survey of disappearing jobs included:

Sewing Machine Operators, Home Appliance Repairers, Engine and Other Machine Assemblers, Conveyor Operators and Tenders, Milling and Planing Machine Setters, Operators and Tenders, Metal and Plastic, Cutters and Trimmers, Hand Tools, Word Processors and Typists [excluding data enterers, secretaries and administrative assistants, court reporters and medical transcriptionists], Chemical Plant and System Operators, Farm workers, Farm and Ranch Animals and some others.

Again, there are traditional female jobs also on the way out, at a rate of about 1 or 2 in 10. Peggy Drexler at Huffington wrote:

The downturn has hit hardest where men are most likely to work — construction, manufacturing and finance. Areas like health care, 81 percent women, have fared much better — actually adding jobs. Women also heavily populate government and education, two more areas that are holding up well.

It is also becoming clear that this recession brings equal opportunity pain. In the past, lower earners suffered first and most. In this downturn, the color of your collar is no protection. High earners are finding themselves on the street in numbers unseen in recessions past.

Worse, many are in their 50s, normally when men hit their peak earning years and begin the long glide path toward a comfortable retirement. They are locked into lifestyles that carry a heavy monthly tab. Prospects are dim, and time to recover is running out.

Not that women haven’t lost jobs, but men appear to be taking it harder — not surprising in a society where what you do is who you are.

Mike Dorning explains:

The portion of men who work and their median wages have been eroding since the early 1970s. For decades the impact of this fact was softened in many families by the increasing number of women who went to work and took up the slack. More recently, the housing bubble helped to mask it by boosting the male-dominated construction trades, which employed millions.

When real estate ultimately crashed, so did the prospects for many men. The portion of men holding a job—any job, full- or part-time—fell to 63.5 percent in July—hovering stubbornly near the low point of 63.3 percent it reached in December 2009. These are the lowest numbers in statistics going back to 1948. Among the critical category of prime working-age men between 25 and 54, only 81.2 percent held jobs, a barely noticeable improvement from its low point last year—and still well below the depths of the 1982-83 recession, when employment among prime-age men never dropped below 85 percent.

To put those numbers in perspective, consider that in 1969, 95 percent of men in their prime working years had a job.

EU employment law means in any dispute between employer and employee, the onus is on the employer to prove his case if the employee is female or in a disadvantaged group, otherwise, the onus is on the employee to prove his case.

Though Labour finished the job on the nation, it was Thatcher who began the ball rolling in the reorganization of the workplace, largely in the direction it is now. All of this you know about – the question is how to reverse the situation.

Exacerbating it is that with men largely out of the loop, neither retraining nor in work suiting their skills set, a new generation of female-defined, compliant young men are arising who’ll do as they’re told and basically slot in where they’re told. Those who don’t are marginalized and become chavs or other forms of troublemaker, creating a Burroughs-type, out of control underclass with nothing to lose.

One can’t blame young females for accepting jobs on offer but one can blame the people who created this workplace shift over the past couple of decades. This 2009 pdf sc225156 puts the situation in perspective.

Outsourcing is another factor in what’s going on. One railways operator is refusing to replace rolling stock with new and as trains finally give up the ghost, plans are being approved for replacement from China, according to a railways official I spoke with on Saturday. The rolling stock is 40 years old but the fact that it got to 40 years is testament to how workable it was. The new trains have an expected life of 2 years.

Who would have been involved in the manufacture of new rolling stock? That’s right.

What to do with these men? They’re being shoved into short term menial jobs for 6 months and that gets them off the unemployment stats and scores brownie points for the firms with the contracts. What are the men doing? Not cooperating, working to rule, sabotaging, generally quietly showing their displeasure. Recently, one employer got rid of the entire staff which had been directed there by one of these firms, on the promise of free labour.

It’s natural for men to grumble and shout about this situation but we don’t hear too many female voices complaining, which is rather short-sighted because the running mate of all this – PCism – and the death grip the EU has on this country has snuffed out any chance of recovery. Quite frankly, too many men are not working and many who are finding jobs are doing so away well from their home base, which uproots families they are still part of. It is also occurring for women but not to the same extent.

For the wife to be the major breadwinner, with an emasculated househusband at home, is insane, a reversal of the natural order of things and that any woman would accept such a situation is difficult to understand. I believe it is deliberate and so, where a normal government would see the writing on the wall and adjust matters, this is an ideological commitment and therefore will continue on to the bitter end.

Welcome to the UK workplace in 2012.

[H/T Chuckles]

5 comments for “The manpower crisis

  1. December 11, 2011 at 7:26 am

    “What to do with these men?”

    Hmmm, perhaps we need a war of conquest, or acquisition. That’s always been the answer in the past, anyway! 😈

  2. David
    December 11, 2011 at 9:42 am

    Fine. Just say you’ve come out as a gay man and bingo – instant protected minority status. You have to use their laws against them. It’s a game.

  3. Maaarrghk!
    December 12, 2011 at 6:39 am

    But what to do about the lack of skilled jobs in the first place?

    It’s all very well training up loads of engineering workers of all grades in colleges and universities, but if there is no industry to employ them what is the point?

    I did a mechanical engineering HND in the early 80’s only to witness the decline and murder of most of our manufacturing base after I had qualified.

    And yes, it has been construction that saved me from flipping burgers. For the past 9 years I have worked in architectural metalwork.

  4. December 13, 2011 at 12:36 am

    Earlier this year I met a young Engineering graduate who told me that he was the only one of his class not to be working abroad (and that for family reasons).

  5. Maaarrghk!
    December 14, 2011 at 6:31 am

    It’s “genius” isn’t it banned? Pure pigging “genius”.

    We train them up and then they have to go abroad to find work. Thus helping other countries economies instead of ours, not having to repay their loans (as someone who got a full grant, I can’t blame them for that) and not paying any of the higher tax rates here that having a better job (and more cash to splash)would entail.

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