15 million people are looking for work, and unemployment is nearing 10%. In particular geographic areas and some segments of the population, unemployment is even higher.
So why are there so many jobs available that employers cannot seem to fill?
These are not menial jobs – the so-called “Jobs that Americans will not do.” The recession is actually helping to dispel the myth that Americans are too proud to do menial work. News reports show long lines of applicants for a job as a janitor, or as a dishwasher at a fast food restaurant.
Instead, the jobs that are going begging are accountants, physical therapists, nurses, pharmacists, data analysts, software sales representatives, actuaries and other jobs that pay anywhere from $50,000 – $70,000.
Millions of jobs with tempting compensation packages and great benefits have been lost forever in the auto industry, construction, Wall Street, and other sectors. Unfortunately, those who have lost those jobs do not have the necessary skills to qualify for positions that are now available in energy, engineering, or nursing.
The problem is that it can take a year or more to acquire the training and education needed to qualify for even an entry level position in a new industry. Where will these unemployed workers find the extra money or time to get the training they need to take those open positions? The bills still have to be paid.
Welcome to the world of the “Mal-Employed,” defined as those who are working outside their education, experience, and skills. Research has shown that college graduates who take jobs below their education level not only earn less, but also may never achieve the earning power of their peers who landed jobs upon graduation that were commensurate with their education level.
These “mal-employed” workers, many of whom are college graduates and beyond, complicate the unemployment picture by taking jobs traditionally held by young people. The unemployment rate for 16- to 24-year-olds has climbed to more than 18%, from 13% a year ago.
Others apply for every opening without regard for their suitability for the position. This results in employers receiving resumes for highly specialized jobs, like MRI technicians, from applicants whose experience includes “making beds.”
Many of the jobs that commanded higher salaries may have required vocational training but not a college education. Others that demanded highly specialized training and education were difficult to fill even before the recession. Now, HR departments are less willing than ever to take a chance on a worker who doesn’t have the exact skill set they need.
“Workers are going to have to find not just a new company, but a new industry,” said Sophia Koropeckyj, managing director of Moody’s Economy.com. “A fifty-year-old guy who has been screwing bolts into the side of a car panel is not going to be able to become a health care administrator overnight.”
The Department of Labor’s Employment & Training Administration (ETA) funds job training programs to improve the employment prospects of adults, youth, and dislocated workers. These programs are delivered primarily by states through the One-Stop Career Center System.
ETA’s Web site provides a clickable map of One-Stop Centers’ web sites for each state. You can also find information on local training programs by visiting America’s Service Locator or calling ETA’s toll-free help line at (877) US2-JOBS.