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    Entries in labor (75)

    Monday
    Jan072019

    World Bank Report: How work and workers are changing

    I know you have better things to do so you, unlike me, probably did not devote a sizable chunk of your down time this past weekend reading the recently released World Bank's 150 or so page report titled 'The Changing Nature of Work', a look at the future of work, and how work is expected to change as a result of technological, societal, and demographic changes.

    The report is really interesting, pretty comprehensive, and probably contains enough information and ideas for a dozen or so deeper dives. But for today, beyond just calling your attention to the report, I wanted to highlight one important set of findings from the World Bank - ideas on how employee skills are changing and more specifically the kinds of skills that will become more in demand moving forward, as technology continues to shape and re-shape work. 

    Here's what the folks at the World Bank think about what kind of employee skills are going to have to change in the future:

    It is easier to assess how technology shapes the demand for skills and changes production processes than it is to estimate its effect on job losses. Technology is changing the skills being rewarded in the labor market. The premium is rising for skills that cannot be replaced by robots—general cognitive skills such as critical thinking and sociobehavioral skills such as managing and recognizing emotions that enhance teamwork. Workers with these skills are more adaptable in labor markets.

    Technology is disrupting the demand for three types of skills in the workplace. First, the demand for nonroutine cognitive and sociobehavioral skills appears to be rising in both advanced and emerging economies. Second, the demand for routine job-specific skills is declining. And, third, payoffs to combinations of different skill types appear to be increasing. These changes show up not just through new jobs replacing old jobs, but also through the changing skills profile of existing jobs.

    The World Bank offers up as an example of this changing nature of what kinds of skills the new and future economy will need and reward the below chart of how the general job requirements for a hotel management trainee have changed in the last 30 or so years (see below)

    The point being that while the job, in general, is more or less the same in 2018 as it was in 1986, the skills and characteristics of the kind of person who is likely to be successful in the job has shifted. In 2018, there is more emphasis on attitude, communication skills, ability to effectively team with others - the kinds of skills that are essential to business today, and that are still incredibly difficult to automate or replace with technology. Recent data from other sources such as LinkedIn' hiring trends report suggest much the same - "soft" skills, the ones we can't replace with an algorithm or a chatbot are in increasing demand. Said differently, that philosophy or psychology degree your kid wants to take at University may not be such a bad idea after all.

    I plan on exploring the World Bank report further in the coming weeks, and encourage anyone interested in the Future of Work to give it a look.

    Have a great week!

    Friday
    Dec142018

    PODCAST: #HRHappyHour 350 - The US Labor Market and Economic Trends for 2019

    HR Happy Hour 350 - The US Labor Market and Economic Trends for 2019

    Hosts: Steve BoeseTrish McFarlane

    Guest: Josh Wright, Chief Economist, iCIMS

    Sponsored by Virgin Pulse - www.virginpulse.com

    Listen HERE

    This week on the HR Happy Hour Show, Steve was joined by Josh Wright, Chief Economist from iCIMS to talk about the important labor market trends, why these trends are important for HR and Talent Acquisition leaders, and what 2019 might have in store for the labor market and the economy at large.

    Josh shared his thoughts on why HR and Talent leaders should care and follow these big picture data points and trends, why economics is the language of business, and how understanding the economic outlook at a macro and local level can help HR leaders make better decisions.

    We also geeked out a little on some of the important economic data sets like the monthly jobs report, weeky new jobless claims, and Steve's favorite, the monthly BLS JOLTS report. In addition, Josh shared why keeping abreast of the housing market can be of value to HR leaders.

    Josh also shared the interesting work iCIMS is doing with their Monthly Hiring Indicator, and how that data can help HR and Talent leaders in their organizations. Finally, Josh shared some thoughts on what 2019 might have in store for the labor market and the economy overall.

    You can listen to the show on the show page HERE, on your favorite podcast app, or by using the widget player below:

    This was a fun and geeky show! Thanks so much Josh for joining us,

    Remember to subscribe to the HR Happy Hour on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher Radio, Google Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts - just search for 'HR Happy Hour.'

    Friday
    Jun292018

    How tight is the labor market? One retailer is already taking applications for the holidays

    You've seen the headlines, (or heard me talk about them on the HR Happy Hour Show), unemployment is really low, the number of posted job openings has never been higher, and companies of all kinds are reporting that finding and retaining talent continues to get tougher.

    Just how tough is it out there?

    Well here we are in late June and Kohl's, a major US retailer is already accepting applications for holiday (think Christmastime), seasonal workers for their stores. Here's the details from a piece on CNNMoney:

    The department store announced Wednesday that it is already accepting applications for seasonal positions. Kohl's is staking an early claim in a tight job market that has made it hard for companies to find workers.

    Kohl's is filling jobs at 300 of its 1,100 US stores for the back-to-school and holiday seasons. Additional jobs at stores and fulfillment centers will come open later in the year.

    It's the earliest Kohl's has ever started hiring seasonal workers, said Ryan Festerling, the store's executive vice president of human resources.

    Unemployment is 3.8%, the lowest since 2000. For the first time in at least 20 years, there are more job openings than people looking for work.

    A couple of quick thoughts on this move by Kohl's to get a jump start on holiday seasonal hiring:

    1. Kohl's is signaling, and I bet they have the internal data to back it up, that holiday hiring is going to be really, really tough this year for lots of reasons we've mentioned above. Starting as early as they can, they are hoping, will help them fill the roles they need by the dates they need them filled by.

    2. For the talent pool for retail holiday season help, Kohl's has gotten ahead of the likely competition for these workers. This story has been in the news a fair bit, and people who are thinking about looking for these kinds of jobs this year might consider Kohl's before other retailers - especially since they can apply right now.

    3. Despite all the talk about the end of retail and the inevitable domination of online shopping and Amazon, physical retail still matters. Lots of people work in these stores, and with a strong US economy, most of the large retailers will be looking to add staff for the holiday rush. Heck, maybe I will pick up a few hours this year over at the local mall.

    That's it for me for a summer Friday - have a great weekend!

    Wednesday
    Jun062018

    CHART OF THE DAY: Job Openings Continue to Increase to New Record Highs

    I know I've covered this territory a hundred times, it seems like every month lately, but I feel compelled once again to share the headline number from the monthly Bureau of Labor Statistics  JOLTS (Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey) Report released earlier today.

    Here's the headline (and an accompanying chart from our pals at the St. Louis FED) - Total Job Openings have climbed to 6.7 Million - reaching another new record high in the history of the data series.

    The steady increase in record high job openings has been one of the truly amazing developments in the aftermath of the financial crisis and recession, which saw openings bottom out at about 2.2M in July 2009.

    The questions are now twofold I think. One, just how high is the ceiling for US job openings to climb towards? I mean these records continue to be set even while trade wars are constantly in the news and many financial and labor markets observers have no idea what strange 'news' emanating from Washington might do to the market and the economy?

    And two, when and by how much do we begin to see a much more pronounced increase in wage growth, as companies are finally forced to increase wages in order to try and fill these millions of openings? The sluggish nature of wage growth in the face of seemingly and endless supply of open jobs has been one of the must puzzling aspects of the labor market in the last several years. Something has to give soon, right?

    It's a good time to be looking for work, I would say.

    Have a great day!

    Wednesday
    May232018

    One reason there are so many open jobs in the USA right now

    The very best macro-economic report that helps to shine a light on current labor market conditions is the Bureau of Labor Statistics JOLTS (Job Openings and Labor Turnover Summary) report.

    The JOLTS report covers job openings, hires, total separations, quits, layoffs, and other discharges, and offers us lots of interesting data points to better understand the US labor market - and by proxy, the health of the US economy.

    Last month's JOLTS release, on May 8, included one pretty remarkable number in its summary - the number of job openings in the US as of the end of April had risen to 6.6 million - an all time high since the data series began to be compiled in 2000. 6.6 million open and unfilled jobs. That is a lot of openings. No wonder every time I go out I see a bunch of 'Help Wanted' signs.

     

    Jobs stay open, or perhaps better said, remain unfilled, for a whole bunch of reasons - most of them pretty good reasons. Taking time to sort, screen, and interview candidates; trouble finding the right skill set for specific roles; companies taking the extra steps to really be sure a candidate is a good fit before making a hire - these and more are all decent reasons why jobs stay open.

    But I have another reason, and some research, I want to point you to that is another reason why some jobs remain open, and open longer than perhaps they should be. It's the concept of 'degree inflation' - the tendency of employers to require that candidates possess more advanced educational degrees than the job function truly requires, and that many candidates simply do not have.

    Over the weekend I read a really interesting report on the subject of degree inflation, what it means, where and how often it is occurring, how it negatively impacts the organization, and finally, offering some suggestions for employers to avoid unnecessary degree inflation when hiring.

    The report, titled 'Dismissed by Degrees: How degree inflation is undermining U.S. competitiveness and hurting America's middle class'by authors Joseph B. Fuller and Manjari Raman, both from the Harvard Business School, is an interesting and deep look at just what happens when companies try to use artificial degree requirements as a screening tool and a proxy for candidate skills and suitability for a given role.

    This is a long report, and I definitely encourage you take some time and read it through, but here are the top three most interesting points or pull quotes from the study that I want to share.

    1. In an analysis of more than 26 million job postings, we found that the degree gap (the discrepancy between the demand for a college degree in job postings and the employees who are currently in that job who have a college degree) is significant. For example, in 2015, 67% of production supervisor job postings asked for a college degree, while only 16% of employed production supervisors had one.

    2. Seeking college graduates makes many middle skills jobs harder to fill, and once hired, college graduates demonstrate higher turnover rates and lower engagement levels. A systemic view of the total economics of hiring college graduates shows that companies should be extraordinarily cautious before raising credential requirements for middle skill positions and should not gravitate toward college graduates based only on a vague notion that it might improve the quality of their workforce.

    3. Degree inflation particularly hurts populations with college graduation rates lower than the national average, such as Blacks and Hispanics, age 25 years and older. In addition, degree inflation raises the barriers to entry for Opportunity Youth, the nearly six million young adults who are currently not in school or in jobs. Companies that insist only on a college degree deny themselves the untapped potential of eager to work young adults as well as experienced, older workers as pools of affordable talent.

    Really interesting and plenty to think about in just those three short pull quotes from the report. Even when current holders of a given role in the organization largely do not hold college or advanced degrees, many companies try to require said degrees for new hires into the same role. Then when companies do manage to hire candidates that are say, 'over-degreed' for a role they have to pay them more, the new hires are less engaged, and are more likely to leave - driving up costs and starting the entire process all over. And finally, imposing artificial degree requirements on roles effectively screens out groups of candidates disproportionately and may make any organizational diversity hiring initiatives even harder to progress.

    The conclusion of the report does offer some solid suggestions to reduce or eliminate the degree inflation tendency, (chiefly having a better understanding of the critical skills and competencies needed to perform in a given role, and a broader understanding of how candidates can demonstrate these skills), I won't run through them all here, but take a few minutes to read through them as I think most organizations can pretty easily take steps to better understand this issue and make adjustments and changes to their hiring practices.

    There are 6.6 million job openings in the US right now. I bet a fair number of them have 'Bachelors Degree' listed as a requirement, when, if we were to be honest, it isn't really required.

    Have a great day!