There are two very important articles about the US Workforce I am referencing in this summary of posts today. Normally I share more, but I want to highlight these! You can check all the top career and job search information I shared at the bottom of this post!
Wake Up Government
During my time with the local One-Stop (affiliated with the Department of Labor) I was regularly befuddled by the regulations imposed on unemployed job seekers. Many times a job seeker would share with me their interest in starting a business, however they were afraid doing so would jeopardize their their eligibility for unemployment insurance. NY States handbook says: “Time
spent during the day or evening or on weekends preparing to start or actually operating a business may be considered employment even though no sales are made nor any compensation received.”
What the Department of Labor has failed to acknowledge with their out-of-date policy is that many people today have a business they operate on the side for supplemental income. The DOL does offer SEAP (Self Employment Assistance Program) for qualifying unemployed individuals to help with their start-up business idea which allows the small number of people who qualify to be in the program to continue to claim unemployment benefits. However, doesn’t the policy deter most people from thinking about becoming a part-time independent contractor. And haven’t some economists said that our economic recovery will be influenced by people who start their own business? And isn’t the ability to generate some income, better than draining unemployment?
Here’s another scenario. A person works for two or three (maybe more) businesses part-time or as a contractor, however, when one assignment goes away, they are unlikely to be eligible for unemployment benefits. Just because one job goes away doesn’t mean the ex-employee with other part-time gigs should lose claim to employment benefits, does it? However, the way the DOL currently operates, they do. The DOL sees it as one or none.
Sara Horowitz, the founder of the Freelancers Union recently wrote in an editorial in Reuters contending that the BLS is out of date too!
Although independent workers were a full one-third of the U.S. workforce at last count (which was 6 years ago), they aren’t counted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in a consistent and ongoing way. … As a result, our outdated numbers have led to outdated policies that no longer meet the needs of America’s 21st century workforce.
Meghan M. Biro wrote about the pros and cons of our transformation into a free agent nation on Forbes and cited a study conducted by Bersin that predicts the continued increase in contingent workforce numbers.
Hmmm, and six years ago the BLS predicted it would be in a steady state- no anticipated growth. Ah, how things can change.
Now, moving on to skills gap stuff!
Bersin’s study found that one of the greatest issues challenging our economy is a skills shortage or “talent paradox.” Bersin says:
Companies need skills, yet unemployment remains high. We do not really have a job shortage—we have a skills shortage. Why? Nearly every business discipline is increasingly changing. As a senior innovation advisor at a major energy company stated, “In today’s economy there is no way anybody can be an expert in a substantial part of their total field. The modern ‘renaissance man’ is one who understands how to learn.” This challenge of finding people with the right skills in the right place drives many of our predictions for the coming year.
So what are the skills employer are seeking?
Devry’s Career Advisory Board conducted a study released in October of 2012. They call it Job Preparedness Indicator. I wrote about their first study here. In short, it summarizes the top skills employers are looking for are:
- Strategic Perspective
- High Integrity
- Global Outlook
- Strong Base Work Ethic/Dependable
Low on the list of important skills are flexibility, good understanding of technology, and ability to network.
So which is it? It seems that employers are not even sure what they value most. But one thing is for sure. During these tumultuous times, which oh, by the way, probably won’t improve much, we have to do our part in staying up to date, take credit where credit is due, and market our talents inside and outside of our current organization.