Friday, June 5, 2009

Toughest Jobs to Fill

by Olga LaPlante

According to this article, these are the toughest jobs to fill: engineers, nurses, technicians, teachers and sales representatives. Who would have thought?

Well, the engineer bit is quite expected. Lots to learn, a lot of students prefer liberal arts (although the two are not necessarily mutually exclusive, do you agree?), and most importantly, employers want an experienced and talented engineer, trained in a variety of fields - who has the money and time for that? - and as baby boomers are retiring there will be more open positions.

The second job, according to this article, is nurses. The problem with these guys is there are not enough nurse educators to train enough people to fill in the slots. How curious is that?

Teachers - it's pretty clear, low salaries, higher education degrees, but I would like to know where that shortage is, just in case. With the infamous "cliff in funding" coming in two years, that's definitely a good thing to know.

All of the above are reasonable, and the lack or hardships of higher education are somewhat present throughout the top 2 and the fourth one (teachers). But this bit came as a surprise and wake-up call at the same time. I actually was in a discussion around that last summer when I was in Russia. My parents' neighbor has a 13-year kid, who is not particularly interested in schooling. One might say, that 13 is too early to get sleepless about the college costs, but he is already considering options for his child. Truth is, unless you are among the top half students, chances are you won't get into a good university or college for free - yes, there is such thing as free higher education in Russia. So, the dilemma he is dealing with is this. He runs a business, some construction or some manufacturing, I never was curious enough to pry, and he didn't volunteer, and he says it's so hard to find a good, experienced technician (such as crane operators, or welders). It's impossible to find a young reliable technician period. Why? Because the young people are after quick, clean (white-collar) and "important" jobs, like accountants, financial folks (working in banks, even if you are a teller, is soooo prestigious!), and lawyers. A lot of them are struggling to find a job now. But few people decide to do the grunt work.

The article supports the same view:
Like workers in skilled trades, technicians are trained at vocational schools, and they're in short supply because so many high school students are encouraged to go to four-year colleges instead.
How does that sit with the intentions of the DOE in Maine to make every student go on to college? Is it best intentions or denial of reality?

What are your thoughts?

CEOs Without College Degree

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