Employee Shortage in the Future?

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One rumor that is floating around lately is employee shortage and large amount of baby boomers are retiring and will be leaving their jobs behind, and that means we will enter a jobs nirvana with lots of jobs opening up, and rising salaries due to the employers competing against each other to get candidates.

Many LinkedIn articles spout hype about how Millennials will be the overwhelming vast majority of the job market (like 75% in some outrageous claims) and basically be running things in 5-10 years (through none of them actually cite any decent sources with actual facts) – that implies boomers must become a very microscopic part of the job market through retirements, layoffs or plain dropping dead. As a result, there will be a huge worker shortage.

Apparently, when this “Silver Tsunami” comes, companies will be begging you to work for them, and throwing money at you to boot. We will finally get the 4 day work week, or even better, the 3 day work week advocated by Carlos Slim. The typical worker will be in an employment job market nirvana!

The reality is, that this is not going to happen, for many reasons.

1) Baby Boomers are broke. They don’t have much money in their 401(k)s, and most definitely do not have enough to retire on. As a result, Boomers hold on to their jobs like grim death.

2) H1B and L1 Visas. The minute all these good paying jobs open up, and the number of candidates for them drops below 100 per position being advertised, companies will lobby the Congress and demand more H1B and L1 visas. Every year, on April 1, 100,000-300,000 jobs open up and no US Citizen or Green Card Holder can apply for them – these jobs are only for H1B visa holders.

How appropriate that this takes place on April Fool’s day, it is a bad joke played on legal US workers. In the dot com era, (late 1990’s) employers had big time trouble finding employees to fill any roles at the time. After the dot.com crash in 2000-2001, they learned their lessons and now lobby the government for H1B and L1 visa holders, to make sure they always have people begging for jobs.

3) Boomers are reluctant to retire for reasons other than money. There’s engagement in retirement – many of them don’t want to slow down in retirement. Then there are those who love their jobs too much to quit. Unfortunately, you’re not getting any of their jobs any time soon.

4) Lots of discouraged workers. When the economy picks up enough for the unemployment rate to actually approach a distance that is within a few steps of “the good old days” many of these discouraged workers will dust off their resumes, and jump back in the workforce, and compete against others.

The BLS says there is 861,000 discouraged workers in one category. But wait, what is this? Under “want a job” and Did not search for work in previous year there is 3.4 million people. Click To Tweet And why are they not considered part of the “discouraged” work force?

If they did not want a job, they would count under “do not want a job now” section. But they clearly want one, but did not look for one. The reason is clear why they didn’t look for one, they’re discouraged from looking and they’re not even counted as discouraged workers in the stats.

These people will jump back in to the job market and compete with others if only they believe they have a better chance of geting the job.

5) Generation X’ers are waiting their turn in line. While Boomers are holding on to their jobs like grim death, many of them are at the peak earning years, and also having high-level jobs like executives.

If those jobs are not opening up, Generation X’ers won’t be able to move into them, since the roles are occupied, and Millennials won’t be able to get into the middle level jobs where the Generation X’ers are now. Virtually none of the Generation X’ers are old enough (nor rich enough) to retire yet. And if you’re just getting out of college now, you’re at the back of the line.

6) Companies do not want to train anyone nor hire anyone unless they already have the skills. This is the fault of the employers. This is one reason why good people cannot find jobs. However, there is one big exception to this – if the new hire has an H1B visa and a pulse, they get to get free paid training by the people who they are putting out of work.

7) The rising role of the contractor or temporary employee. If we were having a “worker shortage” then employers would be holding on to their good employees and giving them more stability. But that is not the case, the opposite is true. Good talent is having to take survival contract jobs just to put food on the table.

8) Executives are holding on to their jobs. As a result, their direct reports’ careers have stalled since they cannot move up and take those jobs. And everyone else below them can’t move up to take the gray haired executives’ direct reports’ jobs either.

9) Take a look at Japan. It has a workforce with the highest average age. There are lots of silver-haired people who are still working, and not giving up their jobs. As a result, younger workers cannot find jobs, or are underemployed.

The evidence is clear. The job market will not be approaching Nirvana any time soon. Too many people waiting in line to get a job.

My intention of this article is not to discourage people. There are just too many people putting out articles that give people an unrealistically optimistic view of the job market, which then encourages people to behave as if they’ll get a job tomorrow and then they wonder why they didn’t.

Then their confidence is shaken and they wonder what is wrong with them. There is nothing wrong with them, it is the job market that is screwed up.

When you see how things are in reality, you can adjust your expectations and your tactics to get the job. Knowing is half the battle.

Author’s profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/bobkorz


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Bob Korzeniowski

Bob Korzeniowski, MBA, CPA, PMP is a digital native with great experience in consulting and experience in a leadership position. He also has experience in Business Analysis and as a Software QA Analyst. Documentation and process improvement are big things with him. Please visit https://www.linkedin.com/in/bobkorz/ to know more about him.

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