What’s going on: More career development to mask a hiring shortage?

One thing about change, it’s always happening. It’s well visualizedtalent retention through learning and development as workers gain more clout with a pendulum.  That’s definitely the case with the job market. Today, it swings in favor of companies. Tomorrow? Could it swing in favor of workers?  Is it already happening?

Bersin Associates, a talent management research organization just sent out  a promotional email that read: “This hot-off-the-presses research showing significant growth of 9.5% in employee development spending – to an average of $800 per learner – as organizations combat ongoing skills shortages in the labor market.”

Skills shortages? Where?  In the manufacturing sector, which has led the recovery by hiring and growing faster than the services sector, nearly 600,000 jobs go unfilled. The Financial Times quotes a Deloitte and National Association of Manufacturers study, that “there’s a ‘moderate to severe’ shortage of skilled production workers such as machinists, operators, craft workers, distributors and technicians. A similar proportion said workforce shortages or skills deficiencies in production roles were having a significant impact on their ability to expand operations or improve productivity.”

So, if the number of unemployed people is 13.1 million, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, that would leave 12.5 million people who are looking for jobs.

With so many people out of work, makes you wonder if there’s a skill shortage or a hiring shortage. Are companies paying more for “employee development” because it’s cheaper to train burnt out workers who are stressed and not engaged – throw them a carrot– then spend to hire new people?  At some point, no amount of training will make up for too much work and not enough workers.

Spending on training and development increased sharply in 2010 according to ASTD. Managerial and supervisory training was the most offered training, followed by industry-specific training. Good thing as employee disengagement is highest when a direct supervisor is also disengaged.  

So, is this a good trend of management investing in career development? Or, is it a stopgap way to get a little more mileage out of overly worked employees? Third option, we’re in a good but painful cycle, where companies are gearing up to try to keep workers from bolting as more job opportunities arise. Got to love the pendulum.

Love to know you thoughts either way..

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