Sorry but I blame the companies. They say “we can’t find people with the skills we need.” What they mean is “We can’t find people with the skills we need at the wages we are willing to pay.” Raise wages for these positions, and I mean substantially and the people they think aren’t out there, will magically appear at their doorstep. This supposed skill gap is only the latest and probably most successful tactic companies have yet devised to keep wages artificially low. It is ingenious because it has historically been more difficult to slow wage increases in high skill labor positions when demand is high. Not anymore, the “skill gap” does all the dirty work for them and they come out looking like innocent bystanders. Meanwhile the university system, or public schools, or video games, or whatever system/institution/thing that can be easily and conveniently scapegoated takes all the heat. Like I said ingenious. If it weren’t so downright greedy and ultimately self defeating I’d actually admire it.

The companies know some people are on to this game and when confronted they respond with the classic “if we raise wages we would have to raise prices.” “Oh no, that’s terrible” says the media or whatever kiss ass business network show they on. The correct response is “Yes, and?” This is how business works, how supply and demand works, how capitalism works. The companies might counter with the tried and true “but the market simply won’t bear it.” The thing is “the market” they are referring too is not the market they imply it is, but rather it is the stock market, because what they really mean is “our investors won’t bear it because profits will decrease and our stock price will suffer.” Once again the correct response is “Yep, and?” We have been led to believe that profits must only go up, they can only go up. That is simply not true. In a healthy economy, a healthy system, a healthy market, sometimes profitability is flat or goes down. When this happens the only major downside (unless it happens economy wide all at the same time) is that John Q. Banker has to forgo his Saturday night eightball and hooker fest once a month. A bummer for the bankers, definitely some downside for the drug dealers and arguably also the hookers but the average man on the street feels no pain.

Of course I was being a bit over the top at the end there but I hope my point is taken. Even I am willing to concede that yes there may be some genuine cases where this is an actual problem. There is a really simple solution for that too. Hire the person who comes closest to meeting the need then INVEST in training them. It is no different than any other medium to long term investment. Yes, it comes with risk but that risk can be managed. Given the potential ROI the initial outlay is more than reasonable. It really is not hard. If these companies spent as much time thinking about wages and smart investing in human capital as they do whining about a fake “skills” gap the economy would be humming along and we’d all be better for it. But let me guess, “training is too expensive, we’d have to raise prices.” Egads, here we go again….

Research scientist (Ph.D. micro/mol biology), Thought middle manager, Everyday junglist, Selecta (Ret.), Boulderer, Cat lover, Fish hater

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store