HR ruins everything

Todays Globe and Mail had an interesting article about the growing mismatch between jobs and applicants — . Just another instance of the ultimately destructive trends that have been seen elsewhere.

For starters, the article suggests that roughly 1/3rd of the people employed in manufacturing and processing have not finished high school. But the new jobs that have been created are looking for high school graduates with some college. And to make matters worse, the cost of education is soaring — so fewer people can even afford to get these advanced levels of training. And companies no longer make lifetime hires but look for interchangeable people that require no training and can just be dropped into a position, used as required and then discarded.

Education requirements are escalating everywhere — jobs that have been done by regular college graduates now require a masters just to answer the phone. And behind all of this are human resource departments that have been telling business that they understand better than the business units what each job requires and will ensure that only the best candidates will get through. ‘Trust us… we know better than you what is really needed.’

The problem is that they don’t. And are substituting advanced credential-ism for being a help to the hiring departments rather than a controlling force. But it is worse than that — change is the only constant. But rather than investing in internal training and development  the emphasis is on hiring folks with exactly the right certifications for the current needs. The existing people gradually get phased out — so their knowledge of company process and customer needs gets lost as well.

But it is much worse — the employment market and the societal services that prepare people for it are growing increasingly out of step with each other and with society as a whole. The requirements for employ-ability are going up together with the costs of the necessary schooling, but employers have largely abandoned the internal development programs that helped so many in the past. And the low education jobs that sustained so many in the past have been successfully exported abroad — well done, folks!

So the rolls of the unemployed and homeless expand, jobs go begging and taxes go up. Do we introduce soylent green as a way of dealing with all these folks? Or can our brilliant human resources folks come up with a better way to match the available people with the available work? I hope so, but fear that like other groups of overly self-confident, highly educated and totally out of touch people it will always be someone else s’ problem. If so, then we are probably finished as a society and it is just a matter of time before we go the way of Rome.


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