The full interview is well worth a listen, as it examines unemployment in terms of factors that are more nuanced than the broad considerations of macroeconomic factors and business confidence. Of a handful of hypotheses he explores, I find two particularly interesting.
First, it appears that software is a big part of the problem. Wessel describes both anecdotal and experimmental evidence that potentially qualified applicants cannot make it through the filters commonly used in many hiring departments. In one extreme case, a human-resources executive found that his own resume would not have made it through the filters to get hired for his own job. Wessel does not connect this to recent waves of downsizing, but of course the reliance on software has increased at the expense of human resources officers who were, well, human.
Wessel suggests that they increasingly expect schools to do this training work and unfortunately, some political leaders are all-too eager to accommodate these unrealistic and unsustainable demands. The demands are unrealistic because they confuse training (which is specific) with education (which is more general). Even fairly specialized education does not and should not emphasize particular tools, systems, or software versions. Shifting too much of the training burden to schools is also not sustainable, as anti-government activists push politicians to limit support for education at all levels, and so-called education reformers dilute the actual education with rote test preparation.
As Wessel does suggest in the interview, employers and government -- and potential employees -- can use this information to close the apparent gap between what employers demand and what employees have to offer.
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