We recently came across this radio show conversation from the USA. Professor Peter Capelli, Director of Wharton Business School’s Center for Human Resources, was discussing his latest book – Why Good People Can’t Get Jobs: The Skills Gap and What Companies Can Do About It. It is well worth a listen.
The following is a generalisation, but recruitment agencies will back it up. Capelli makes the point that businesses want perfect fit employees, but are not prepared to train them themselves. So, rather than investing in training, they are creating a skills shortage which by its nature creates an increasing number of unemployed people who do not have the exact skills requested and raises employment costs because shortages raise salaries and lengthen the time to recruit people. One of the questions Capelli asks, because he knows most businesses cannot answer it, is “How much does it cost you to not have a position filled for a month?”.
Last week, the Scottish government announced that a new factory for wind turbine manufacture is going to be built by the French energy company, Areva. I understand that they are concerned about having the correct number of skilled people in the area (c.f. Siemens in the Humber). I have heard mentioned that they are seriously considering bringing in Spanish and French workers to “plug the gap”. It would be easy to suggest that the people responsible for bringing in these companies could provide a greater benefit for their local populations if they created training programmes in advance of the deal being signed to ensure that trained local people were available when the work starts. We can either live with reality, businesses are not going to train people so we need to provide a different route, or we can talk about the huge number of jobs being brought to an area and studiously ignore that a large percentage of them will go to non-locals.
Archomai and its partners are promoting skills initiatives in the Humber and Scotland (and other countries globally) to try and assist with this problem. We are creating Skills Capacity Building Centres that will make leading edge training facilities, using simulators and other digital technologies, available to all local training organisations. These technologies are proven to decrease training time and increase retention of knowledge, but are frequently considered too expensive for a single organisation to purchase. Having such a facility can give businesses the confidence that even if the local workforce has not got the correct skills profile now, they can quickly and efficiently acquire them.
This leaflet gives a quick overview of the SCBC concept for the Humber – in this case, with a priority given to the Offshore Wind supply chain. Other centres would be focussed on supply chains relevant to their needs. However, it should always be noted that the benefit of simulators is that it is easy to re-program them, so if the focus needs to change from wind turbines to container terminals, the centre is still just as relevant.