Skills! What Skills?

Unemployment in the Kansas City Metro area for October (the most recent month I have access to when writing this), was 2.7%. There’s not a lot of ways to say it, so, let me be blunt. THAT’S CRAZY. When I was in college, we didn’t think this level of unemployment was possible. In fact, I remember a professor telling me that sustained unemployment below 5% was not possible and could cause a collapse in the economy.

Well, no collapse yet, but that doesn’t mean that is easy for employers. Plus, there are additional challenges. What about skilled labor.

With unemployment at record level lows, finding an employee for a job is hard, finding an employee for a skilled job can be almost impossible. So, what does an employer do.

Well, I am glad you asked. There are several options available, but I want to mention one idea that might be a help to you, and offer a long term solution too. The idea may sound strange, counter-intuitive, even radical, but it is an old idea that may still work. Are you read?


Now, please understand, I am not talking about hiring people who won’t work, or who are unreliable. That would make things hard. I am saying, maybe bring somebody in who doesn’t yet have the skills you need, place them with someone who does, and train them. They used to call these apprentices, and they learned a skill that was then valuable to the employer and the employee.

Do you need someone who can do some spot welding? Why don’t you teach them. Do you have an employee who is loyal and proven. Let them learn a new skill. Let them learn how to do something that you need done. This allows them to grow as a person in their skill level, it allows you to expand your knowledge base in your employees, and it helps you relieve a problem you have of needing good, skilled employees.

There are several ways this can work. Let them employee work one day a week in the new department, or half days in the new department, learning a new skill. Maybe hire someone who has a basic knowledge of the skill, but needs some honing. Let them work with one of your experienced employees. Maybe help them see the value of growing with your company, and staying with a company that will teach them new skills and let them grow.

There is an old saying that I learned a while back that I have found true. “You can teach someone a new skill, you can’t teach them a new attitude. Hire an attitude and teach a skill.” Now, in this market, more than ever, look for the attitude and teach the skill.

Just a thought,

Shane Richardson