I hate aggressive mediocrity. And for good reason….
I’M aggressively mediocre.
Whatever trends the experts notice in the markets almost always applies to me.
What am I talking about?
I’m not sure. I’ve been writing so infrequently over the last several weeks that I’ve almost forgotten how to write. But ANYWAYS….
I read an article…somewhere….who gives a shit where…that discussed our workforce “shortage” that corporations are suffering through. I couldn’t find the article to repost here. A Google search only brings up shit discussing the “skills gap”. But in this SPECIFIC article, the author claims that companies aren’t (just) complaining about a “skills gap” in their pool of applicants…but that their pool just isn’t big enough. There’s a literal shortage of applicants, which would have been an unthinkable predicament just a few years ago.
How did this happen?
Of course, there IS a skills gap, but not only are employees deficient in the “hard” skills (like mechanical aptitude), they also lack “soft” skills like basic punctuality and interpersonal relationships. One employer bitched about having to teach basic math skills. But employees are failing to perform the most basic function of SHOWING UP TO WORK. That’s not only the biggest complaint in the article, but that’s also a huge complaint in my personal experience.
Work is out there but nobody wants it.
But what does this have to do with me?
I’ve started my fifth job since leaving rehab. It’s a job that probably required a specialized degree in a certain field just a few years ago. Now I’m doing it. And it’s fucking awesome. I’m basically a chemist. I’ve probably haven’t look at the Periodic Table of Elements since high school. But I’m able to do the job.
I’m not a researcher…I’m hired to do a very specific task….a task that they trained me to do! A degree or prior training in the field wasn’t necessary.
Okay, so employees don’t want to show up. Drug and mental health problems were cited as a major contributor to this problem. And among millennials, after 10 years of burnout in the workforce, where they realized that corporations are loyal to no one…perhaps feelings are now mutual. So the level of distrust between corporations and the workforce is probably higher than it’s ever been.
But all of this sort of ties into my hypothesis that college is largely useless for gainful employment (with several notable exceptions, like doctors). We could argue that higher education is necessary for personal and intellectual growth, and employers likely agree which is why they might continue to demand it, BUT to perform most high functioning/entry level tasks…these functions could easily be taught with the right instruction and experience. Indeed, even with the right education, these tasks would still have to be taught because each company has its unique set of demands. Higher education CANNOT teach these demands (unless they are in partnership with certain companies)…employers just required degrees because they had to justify paying employees above $12 per hour.
NOW no one wants to work for them so they’re having to place “unqualified” candidates into “specialized” positions. Which is how I (likely) got my current job.
I don’t know dick about chemistry, but I’m able to perform my duties with about a week’s worth of training. Apparently, people that were knowledgeable about this stuff were also able to perform these duties…they just didn’t want to. (Presumably, in addition to doing chemistry, it also requires the employee to do a degree of manual labor which a college graduate might be reluctant to do)
It’s been working for me. But employers must be willing to TRAIN.
While HR departments might be cursing at their seemingly shitty pool of applicants, hopefully this will force companies to put money and attention into employee development. If I can be a fucking chemist, then the sky’s the limit for you.