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    Entries in Jobs (30)


    CHART OF THE DAY: Unemployed vs. Job Openings by Industry

    Today's Chart of the Day comes to us courtesy of the Economic Policy Institute from a short post titled The Number of Unemployed Exceeds the Number of Available Jobs Across All Sectors.

    First the eponymous chart, then as you have come to expect (and demand), some comments from me after the data.

    The EPI piece's author uses this data to make an argument that persistently elevated levels of unemployment, that often are, (at least to some extent), attributed to something called 'skills mismatches', where unemployed workers simply do not possess the requisite skills and abilities that employers demand, are in fact not caused by mismatches, and are in fact driven by depressed overall demand for labor.

    The logic behind this argument is pretty straightforward. If there were indeed large levels of skills mismatches driving unemployment, then we should see, at least somewhere in the economy, particular industry sectors where demand (available jobs), surpasses supply, (available workers in that industry). But as the data above show, every industry sector currently has more supply (unemployed workers), than demand/jobs.

    It is a decent argument, if a little simplistic. It does fail to take into account the many thousands of sub-industries and specific types of jobs that fall into broad categories like manufacturing, construction, or services. It also does not adequately account for the very high likelihood that in certain sectors that workers who have identified themselves as being in that sector, truly have not been willing or able, (possibly because they have been out of work), do keep their skills current and adapted to new demands.

    But taken in aggregate there is a decent argument to be made that if current labor market challenges were the result of skills shortages or mismatches, that there would be at least some specific sectors where there are more unemployed workers than job openings, and others where there are more job openings than unemployed workers. But that is, as yet, not the case and still unemployed workers exceed jobs openings across the board.

    Whether or not there exists widespread skills shortages or mismatches is usually more of a concern for governments or the largest employers. And the nationwide conditions don't really mean much to the small or mid-sized firm that just wants to get its positions filled. But while all HR/Recruiting is local, (to some extent), no firm no matter how small operates in a vacuum. 

    So while these macro-labor market conditions might not move the needle on today's open reqs, they can and likely will impact tomorrow's and next year's and the one after that.

    And that is why I find this data interesting and why it rates for this installment of Chart of the Day.


    Job Titles of the Future #10 - Robot Counselor

    There is a very cool and interesting list of some potential 'Job Titles of the Future' over at The Canadian Scholarship Trust site that you should definitely take a few minutes and check out. They took a time horizon looking out to 2030, (which seems like a really long time from now but is only about 15 years), and came up with some fascinating titles like Nostalgist, Rewilder, and Garbage Designer among others.

    But the one (naturally), that caught my eye and I wanted to highlight here was Robot Counselor. What, exactly, is a Robot Counselor? Will flash forward to 2030 - a time when robots are in more and more homes, performing assorted domestic tasks, including helping to care for elderly, sick, or even acting as children's caregivers.

    By the year 2030, having a full-time robot domestic assistant will be pretty common, and it will be important for people and families to choose the 'right' robot for their needs and personalities. That is where the Robot Counselor comes in. The Robot Counselor will firstly be a knowledgable resource and purchase advisor to help families pick the right robot. The counselor will observe how family dynamics and relationships work to help identify their needs and lifestyle so that they can make the best decision about the type of robot would suit their specific needs. Finally, if the robot isn’t fitting in in the home, or if family conflicts arise due to the new house robot, the robot counselor can then recommend alternate options and provide ongoing service and support to the family.

    What skills or backgrounds would the Robot Counselor need?

    Certainly a deep understanding of currently available and future trends in robot technology, particularly robots being designed for and deployed in domestic settings. The Robot Counselor will also need some psychology and sociology knowledge to better assess and interpret the signs and signals from a family's relationships with each other (and their robots). Finally, the Robot Counselor will have to be able to think quickly, make recommendations about technology, and be comfortable serving as a kind of trusted family advisor.

    It kind of sounds like a cool job, and as such, Robot Counselor officially joins the list of SFB-approved Job Titles of the Future.


    Job Titles of the Future #9 - Chocolate Foresight Activator

    I caught this Job Title of the Future from a recent piece on The Atlantic, describing the Hershey Company's quest to find, what the Atlantic called a 'Chocolate Futurist', or what Hershey refers to in their still-posted job ad, a 'Senior Manager, Foresight Activation.'

    I think The Atlantic wins points for the jazzier job title.

    Just what does a 'Chocolate Futurist/Foresight Activator' have to do?

    Straight from the Hershey job listing:

    Supports the activation of existing foresight (trends, forecasts, scenarios) into strategic opportunities (SOs) and platforms with commercial value for Hershey, mining existing foresight content for highest potential business impact opportunities or threats.  Performs ongoing monitoring of the external environment for new insights and trends approaching tipping points.  Partners with external agencies to identify new trends that can inform and accelerate foresight activation.  Collaborates with Corporate Strategy, R&D, Global Knowledge & Insights and Silicon Valley Advance Team as well as other business and functional teams to flesh out opportunity assessment and business case.  Shapes new initiatives in the front of funnel and drives to successful completion through Gates A, B and C.

    What kind of background or education do you need in order to activate foresight and drive to successful completion through Gates A, B, and C, (what the heck does that even mean, btw?)

    Education: MBA in Marketing or Masters in related field required

    Experience: Minimum of 8+ year’s relevant experience.  Multi-disciplinary background (Marketing, Corporate Strategy, R&D, Management Consulting).   User design or consulting experience a plus.  Solid front-end innovation capability including the identification of insights and translation to business growth strategy.

    Experience with a major innovation consultancy (i.e. What If? IDEO, Doblin, Innosight, Prophet, Jump Associates, Eureka Ranch, New & Improved) supporting multiple clients to accomplish the same.

    Progression of successful accomplishments in identification and commercialization of new business opportunities. Experience with a top-tier consumer packaged goods company preferred.  International and technical experience desirable but not required

    So, in order to 'activate foresight' it probably would help if you had a solid, cross-functional background, had a fair bit of customer-facing experience, and new something about product development and management.

    But, at least according to the posting copy, in order to be qualified to be a Chocolate Futurist/Foresight Activator, you don't necessarily have to know anything much about chocolate. In fact the word chocolate doesn't show up anywhere in the listing.

    Which in a way is kind of cool. The future might not be all that chocolat-y, who knows?

    Maybe the foresight activator for a chocolate company should be someone that doesn't view the world through cocoa-tinted lenses.

    Maybe Hershey is actually showing some foresight themselves in looking outside their normal frames of reference to find someone to help them 'form presentations that create a tangible vision of what the future might look like that business partners can grasp.'

    Sounds like a cool gig. And one that earns official SFB designation as a 'Job Title of the Future.'


    Job Titles of the Future #8 - 20 Jobs to Pick From

    My friend Raluca shared the below Slideshare presentation with me, a really fun look at a topic that I have also had some fun with here on the blog, of course I am talking about Job Titles of the Future.

    In the presentation, (embedded below, Email and RSS subscribers may need to click through), the folks at advertising and marketing firm Sparks and Honey offer up their take on how trends in technology and society are conspiring to create a new set of opportunities, i.e., jobs of the future that don't exist right now.

    Take a look through the slides and I will have a couple of comments after the jump:


    Pretty cool, right?

    Of the 20 jobs of the future I think my top choices for most interesting and/or most likely to pan out in some kind of material way have to be 'Corporate Disorganizer', (a kind of nod to all the hubbub going on about the Holacracy stuff), 'Alternative Currency Speculator', (any time a new market forms there are always going to be speculators. And I love the movie 'Trading Places.'), and also 'Digital Death Manager', (a little macabre but I think on the money. Just what does happen to your Facebook or Twitter accounts if you pass away?).

    Anyway, it is an interesting take with some ideas about what the future might hold. With the world of work changing every day, it pays to at least to attempt to stay on top of where the next year's and decade's opportunities are going to lie.

    Have a great weekend!


    More on the STEM talent shortage, or lack thereof

    Fall weekends are for two things, watching my beloved New York Football Jets display their unique brand of ineptitude on fields across America (big non-relevant aside: I am starting more and more to come down on the site of Malcolm Gladwell regarding football and its eventual and likely marginalization. The only football game, college or NFL, I watched all weekend was the Jets vs Bucs, and in that game alone in the first half, two Jets players wobbled off the field, pretty much incoherent from blows received to their helmets. Multiply that by hundreds of games, many played by little kids as young as 7 or 8 and try to count, you can't, the number of kids/teens/collegians/men who are absorbing ridiculous and repeated trauma to the head each weekend. I don't know. Most of think boxing is a crazy sport. But we are ok with football. Sorry, that was a long aside), and catching up on some longer reads from the week I did not have time to really review.

    The piece I'd like to call your attention to is titled 'The STEM Crisis is a Myth', an absolute takedown of the notion that currently the American economy is suffering, and will continue to suffer from a dearth of workers with the needed STEM skills to fill current and expected demand for them (or more precisely, the skills themselves). The author, Robert Charette, makes a compelling case that there is not, in fact, a STEM worker shortage. If anything, there is a surplus of STEM-capable workers, both from the amount of STEM graduates that are produced each year, and from the upwards of 11 million STEM-trained workers that for one reason or another, are not working currently in STEM roles.

    Chech the below chart from the piece to see where Charette is coming from:

    Do the math, (no pun intended), if you like, but when you break down the estimates of new STEM jobs being creating against the numbers of new graduates and existing STEM-educated workers it becomes harder and harder to make the 'shortage' case.

    Additionally, it might be in tech and other firms best interested to play up the shortage narrative.  Why?

    From the piece:

    Companies would rather not pay STEM professionals high salaries with lavish benefits, offer them training on the job, or guarantee them decades of stable employment. So having an oversupply of workers, whether domestically educated or imported, is to their benefit. It gives employers a larger pool from which they can pick the “best and the brightest,” and it helps keep wages in check. No less an authority than Alan Greenspan, former chairman of the Federal Reserve, said as much when in 2007 he advocated boosting the number of skilled immigrants entering the United States so as to “suppress” the wages of their U.S. counterparts, which he considered too high.

     And STEM wages are 'in check', check this nugget from the article:

    And over the past 30 years, according to the Georgetown report, engineers’ and engineering technicians’ wages have grown the least of all STEM wages and also more slowly than those in non-STEM fields; while STEM workers as a group have seen wages rise 33 percent and non-STEM workers’ wages rose by 23 percent, engineering salaries grew by just 18 percent. The situation is even more grim for those who get a Ph.D. in science, math, or engineering. The Georgetown study states it succinctly: “At the highest levels of educational attainment, STEM wages are not competitive.”

    It is a complex and even controversial subject, but in light of all the available data, it gets harder and harder to make the 'shortage' case, and in fact, it gets more dangerous if it perpetuates to the point where it serves to help create a real shortage in the future, as students decide to avoid these fields in the future.

    If you're interested at all in these issues, I encourage you to take a few minutes to read 'The STEM Crisis is a Myth', maybe bookmark it for new Saturday though!

    Have a great week!