Is the Skilled Worker Shortage A Hoax?

I woke up this morning, read a few emails and then clicked on a link that lead me to a Boston Globe column about a "solution for the lingering bommers." In it syndicated columnist Dale Dauten tells us:

For 10 years we’ve been hearing about this impending shortage of workers, about this looming leadership gap and inevitable talent void. Well, I haven’t seen it, have you? All these years of alarms, and still, a hundred qualified people for every worthwhile job.

Oh, I understand the logic of the prophecy: The great lump in the snake of time, the boomer generation, is finally going to be digested and move beyond the workplace, leaving behind a smaller generation and thus shrinking labor pool; ergo, the gap/void/shortfall.

Mr. Dauten goes on to tell us about several consultants he knows that believe the shortage is real.  He however remains a skeptic.  If you have been following my posts for the last several weeks, you’d know that several states have declared the lack of skilled workers a crisis and are ready to "invade" neighboring states to find workers.  You would also recall how several businesses have lost opportunity and business because they don’t have enough skilled workers to executive operations or deliver products and services.

As I continued through my emails, I came across another link which confirmed my forecasts and refuted Mr. Dauten. The first came from the Seattle Times. The story ironically tells a tale of a worker shortage in the most unlikely place – Ohio. Yes, Ohio – a "rust belt" state that has lost tens of thousands of manufacturing jobs over the last few years. And yet, business owner after business owner, cries the blues about too much business for too few skilled workers.  Put simply, the article states, "Even after a century of manufacturing focus and higher-than-average salaries, the region suffers an imbalance between available skills and the personnel needs of growing enterprises…….Many out-of-work trades people don’t fit into today’s technology-intensive factories."

This was followed by an article in the Toronto Star.

Central Canada may be bracing for a recession but there’s still no sign of it in the West. Instead, employers worry about finding and keeping enough workers to deal with soaring demand for their products and services… Frustration abounds everywhere. The owner of one upscale Calgary restaurant says he has not only had to resort to washing the dishes himself, he’s now thinking of buying two condos to house the temporary help he wants to import from the Philippines.

I did eventually contact Mr. Dauten and recommended he speak to growing and emerging businesses about the challenges they have in finding skilled workers. If you have stories about any businesses who can’t find skilled workers, please share them with me by leaving a comment or contacting me. 


Ira S Wolfe