America's unemployment is not due to a skills mismatch.

If you disagree with this, do the following exercise.

Imagine that, for hypothetical sake, every working age American has every possible skill known to humanity and is supremely proficient.

How many of those people will get hired? How much will this cut down on the number of people who don’t have a job today?

If the number in question #2 is in the millions, the issue of America’s unemployment is not mostly a skills mismatch, it’s mostly a lack of jobs, period.

Now, what will those perfectly trained Americans do now that they’ve gotten all this training and are further in debt and still don’t have a job? How many will be able to go on a trip to Spain?

It really doesn’t matter how much retraining you’ve taken nor increased your skill set if employers needing those skills have off-shored the work and are not looking for candidates at your location. Unless one has the legal ability chase that skill set overseas to secure a job (at probably a significant lower wage) the issue is now moot.

I fail to understand where a trip to Spain has anything to do with this.

I think superfluous white-collar workers would do well to consider the manual trades. The first generation would have it rough, because their education and insistence on a “flat” workplace would rankle the hell out of the blue-collar culture. But in 20 years or so, they could revolutionize those industries. Even before that, those who bought into the bullshit even a little could be making much better livings.

Is there anyone who actually claims that unemployment in the U.S. is primarily a result of skills mismatch?

No, really? So, perhaps you’d consider the radical idea that the current levels of unemployment in the US are due to, well, the recession? The downturn in the economy?

Oh, wait…it’s you. That means that your counter to this strawman is that the downturn is due to outsourcing, offshoring and the lack of punitive tariffs against ‘low wage’ nations, right?

And if I agree that your strawman is full of straw do I get a prize of some kind?

Ok. Every working American has every possible skill known to humanity and is supremely proficient. That means that all of their relative labor is identical, which means that they are all completely interchangeable, which means that they are all going to command very comparable salaries for every conceivable job, and that they will be hired for reasons other than their skill. Say, their health, availability, what wages they are willing to take, their shoe size or some other reason.

This is going to be a very bad thing for most of the work force, but I’m imagining your fantasy here.

Probably less people would need to work in this fantasy of yours because if they are all infinitely well trained and have infinite skill levels (plus very high perception, strength and stamina, plus they have a plus 6 vorpal briefcase) you would need fewer workers. Businesses would have a huge pool of people to choose from, since everyone has the exact same skill and proficiencies…and every one of them is highly overqualified for any conceivable job in America. So, supply and demand means that it would be a buyers market for business…which is going to be bad news for American workers. I have no idea where you thought you were going with this little exercise, but it’s probably not where you meant it to go.

It’s a lack of BUSINESS, which translates into a lack of JOBS. We are in a recession (well, technically we aren’t, but we might as well be), which means that business is in recession mode. They aren’t expanding, they are either contracting or holding steady, waiting for the economy to pick up and for their businesses to pick up. They aren’t going to hire back a bunch of people if the economy sucks.

But no…I’m sure it’s all because of offshoring, outsourcing and lack of tariffs. Right? I’m like Kreskin! It’s MAGIC!!

They are all supremely skilled and supremely proficient at every conceivable job. Basically, on the world market American workers would be in high demand if they were willing to travel in your fantasy world. Unless every worker in the world also got these same magical powers, every American worker would be in demand in all the countries that didn’t get magical workers with vorpal briefcases and Pens of Doom! In the American market they would flood the market with the exact same skill levels at everything, but on the world market they could potentially be worth quite a lot, since every company would want magical workers.

Not exactly the answer you wanted, but then you have me on ignore anyway, so you won’t see it. I’m sure you’ll bring things around to outsourcing, offshoring and tariffs when you come back in 3 days to continue the ‘debate’. I know this because I’m magic, like Kreskin!


Has anyone at any point claimed that current unemployment levels are due to a skills mismatch? How is this even a debate - let alone, a “great” one? :smack:

Not primarily, but both Obama and (Bill) Clinton are acting as if the skill mismatch is part of why the unemployment issue is so high. I once heard Clinton claim there are something like 2 million open jobs and no qualified applicants for them.

The OP should debate Clinton and Obama then. :stuck_out_tongue: There aren’t a ton of jobs going unfilled because there aren’t enough qualified Americans to do them. In some local situation there might not be enough qualified workers, and the pay might not be sufficient to attract qualified workers from other parts of the country to move out and take the job, but that’s not what’s causing the higher than normal levels of unemployment in the US today. It’s not due to offshoring or outsourcing either. Nor to a lack of tariffs on the part of America. Businesses have cut back, in some cases to the bone, and they aren’t going to rehire a bunch of people unless they need them. As long as the economy sucks, we are going to have relatively high levels of unemployment, regardless of the skill set of the average American worker.


There are No jobs because there is no manufacturing. Every job lost to chinese imports supported 4-5 other jobs (sales, delivery, secretarial) .
all the "retraining’ in the world won’t help this.
these next ropund of layofffs will be municipal employess (police, teachers, DPW,etc.) The Obma printed-up "stimulus’ money has run out.
Keep “Hope and Change” alive!:smiley:

If your hypothetical were true, these people wouldn’t need jobs-- they’d be creating jobs.

This might be the wrongest post in history. Literally everything about it is nonsense.

I’m not sure about primarily, but a while back there was a spate of newspaper articles about how poor old employers with jobs begging just couldn’t find anyone to fill them.
I have seen interviews with CIOs who complain about this - but when you read further, it turns out that they want very specific skills with very specific software packages, and they don’t want to have to pay to train anyone with excellent skills to learn them.

Therein lies the problem IMO. They don’t want to train anyone new, they want people to have the skill set they are looking for on day 1.

Is this your idea of a proof?

Suppose I said in response to Question 2: All of them. Their skills include identifying and implementing underserved market needs. Therefore, once all the jobs (however many there are, maybe only a couple thousand would be left over, your “proof” certainly doesn’t provide any reason to believe otherwise) are filled up, the remaining workers will form new businesses instead.

Or maybe not. My main concern is to eradicate from reputable discussion the idea that perfectly empirical questions (What is the cause of unemployment in the current labor economy? What, if any, are the biological substrates of the social categories of race? etc. etc.) can be answered by meditating on unrealistic, tendentious “thought experiments.”

Also, Spain!

What’s wrong with that? If I hire someone to mow the grass, I want someone who knows how to start a lawn mower and a weed eater. I don’t want to spend a month teaching some kid how to cut grass.

Why shouldn’t an employer expect to have someone with skills come on board?

What you as a homeowner expect from a landscaping service is not really analogous to what you as as a business owner might expect from an employee.

Take programming. My company has a proprietary software system. We could insist that somebody takes a mandatory, unpaid training course in how to use it (i.e. expecting the requisite skills for the job).

But we don’t. We require programming knowledge/experience and expect them to learn our system on our dime.

To be fair, CIOs are complaining about that middle ground. Somewhere between landscaping and knowledge of proprietary systems, there are skills that are worthless except in a few jobs. But it’s not economically viable for all job seekers to learn a dozen different skills sets, each of which might only be applicable for a small percentage of total job openings.

With landscaping, there’s a glut of supply, so expectations of applicable training/knowledge can be high and wages can be low. With specialized software, there’s low supply of trained personnel. So, why shouldn’t either wages go up or training costs go up? Supply/demand works both ways. If you demand a certain skill set and it’s rare, the proffered salary has to match market reality. But they’d rather pay “market” rates that make the false assumption the skill set is common.

There’s nothing wrong with it. Just don’t cry about being able to hire qualified candidates when your boneheaded hiring strategy backfires, like the original mention of the CIOs had them doing.

I wonder why the OP mentioned Spain, specifically. Not that it’s a bad or uninteresting country to visit; quite the contrary.