Why I Tend to Disbelieve Employers

So some employers say that they cannot find qualified workers. Maybe that is the case in some situations, but there is a basic problem with the notion that this is holding things back. That basic problem is that if you cannot find qualified workers, you can find unqualified workers and make them qualified. If there is a profit to be made producing something and a lack of qualified workers is holding you back, then this is what you should do. The only time you would not do this is when the profit to be made is so slim that it would be wiped out by the costs of training an unqualified worker. But in that case, the employer is not complaining that there are no qualified workers; the employer is complaining that the state or the individual will not subsidize the employer’s business by undertaking the costs of training its employees.

Additionally, the no-qualified-workers line usually means something like “I can’t find qualified workers at the price I want to pay.” Sorry, but that is not how things work. You do not get labor at whatever price you want to pay. The employer in that case is saying that they are too cheap, not that there are no qualified workers.

Now, there are some cases where this would be legitimate. While I think there is a lot of room for the employers to train the workers themselves, there are some very high-skill jobs where it would be kind of ridiculous to imagine the employer funding 5 years of schooling to get an employee out of it. Additionally, there are cases where the ability to legally perform a job requires certain credentialing (a nursing certificate or something). In that case, the employer may not really be able to bring someone on and train them to do the job because it is the lack of certificate that is the problem, and only a certificate-granting institution can solve that (although even then the employer could fund people to get certificates if indeed there was money to be made with more qualified workers).

A better way to measure whether a lack of unqualified workers is the problem is to look at sector-by-sector unemployment stats and see whether things have gotten worse across the board or in specific industries. In our case, it is the former, not the latter. Employer bellyaching, while interesting, is not the dispositive of the issue to say the least.