easily know how much it costs to employ somebody, but they can't measure that employee'scontributions. So, in most companies, given their accounting systems, it actually looks like they'resaving money by keeping positions vacant. If you think that's the story, then you're obviously in norush to hire. I think it starts there, and that's clearly not a good thing for society or for employers.But it begins with their own problem: The way their internal accounting is designed encouragesthem not to hire.Knowledge@Wharton: You also say part of the problem is that companies aren't paying marketwages. They're trying to low ball the job market. But why should they pay market wages when theycan get employees cheaply?Cappelli: Well, the thing is they can't -- that's what they're claiming, right? There's a survey doneby Manpower that asks employers if they're having trouble finding people to hire. In that survey,about 11% say the problem they're having is they can't get people to accept the jobs at the wagesthey're paying. So 11% are saying we're not paying enough. If 11% admit this, my guess is the realnumber is probably double that. We're not very good at identifying problems that we createourselves. That's certainly part of it. You know, maybe you can't blame them for trying. But if they're not finding [employees], don't call it a skills gap; don't call it a skills mismatch -- you're justbeing cheap.Knowledge@Wharton: One of your chapters in the book is called "A Training Gap, Not a SkillsGap." You have some figures showing that in 1979, young workers received an average of two anda half weeks of training per year. By 1991, only 17% of young employees reported getting anytraining during the previous year, and by last year, only 21% said they received training during theprevious five years. You note that this especially hurts work-based training programs, such asapprenticeships. So, really, a huge part of the so-called "skills gap" comes from the weak employereffort to promote internal training for either current employees or future hires. Is that correct?Cappelli: Right. I think the story that one hears, particularly around the policy community, is thatemployers can't find the people they want to hire because schools are failing and kids aren't comingout with the right academic degrees and the right knowledge. If you actually look at the data fromemployers themselves when they report problems they're having with recruiting, they never talk about academic skills as being near the top of the list. In fact, their complaints have been consistentfor the 30 years or so that I've been looking at this. And their complaints are the ones, frankly, thatolder people always have about younger people -- they're not conscientious enough, their workplaceattitudes are not diligent enough, they don't want to work hard enough -- those sorts of things.They're not actually looking for young people out of school at all.
When you look at what they want, they want experience -- everybody wants somebody with three to fiveyears' experience. What they're really after are the skills that you can't learn in a classroom, that you canonly learn by doing the job itself. So, the craziness about the hiring requirements is that in most cases,employers are looking for somebody who is currently doing exactly the same job someplace else. That's partly why they don't want to look at an applicant who is currently unemployed.... They want somebodywho is currently doing the same job right now. The problem is that nobody wants to give those peopleright out of school any experience. Nobody wants to take somebody who's never done this job before andtrain them. Now, I can understand why it's better, easier, if you're an employer to hire somebody who's already beentrained -- or it seems like it's better. But it's creating this skills problem, because nobody wants to give people that initial experience. And again, in many cases, it would pay off to take people who are reallyqualified in many ways -- except for these quite specific skills -- and help them get training. You can paythem less while you're training them. You can require that they get some of these skills before you engagethem. But because of the accounting systems, employers, for the most part, have no idea what it wouldcost them to train somebody. They have no idea whether they're actually saving money by trying to chasethese people who already have jobs and hire them.
Knowledge@Wharton: It's one of the Catch-22s that your book seems to be filled with. Employersdon't want to train their employees because they fear they'll leave the company -- which employeesare actually doing more and more frequently these days -- which means all the effort and expense
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