Earned Success: A Case for Hard KnocksMay 1, 2011
While visiting last month’s ProMat logistics and transportation-engineering tradeshow in Chicago, I spoke with an executive from a large manufacturing company who shared his frustration in trying to hire qualified, skilled employees—engineers, project managers and skilled tradespeople. Last year, his company’s business boomed and is on track for continued growth in 2011. Yet, it is being held back by a lack of qualified prospects to fill new jobs.
What an astonishing contradiction, at a time when our nation is faced with a jobless rate hovering near nine percent. A CBS News broadcast magnified this contradiction when it recently reported that, while the number of available manufacturing jobs has doubled from last year, many of these jobs are not being filled due to a shortage of skilled workers.
There was a time when one could graduate from high school, enter into an apprenticeship program, work hard, earn a good wage, raise a family and retire, having spent his entire career with a single company. Those days seem to have left us, as the division between unions and management has grown from a healthy balance to a lopsided contest blazing toward mutual annihilation. Enter the government to “fix things,” and now we really have the perfect environment to encourage shortsighted, over-managed and underperforming mediocrity.
This is not who we are. I still believe that we are an accomplished nation of innovators with character, who hail from solid work ethics and sober decision-making. We get things done.
The begging question:
Why at a time when so many are out of work is it so hard for businesses to fill jobs and fuel growth in manufacturing? Why this high unemployment rate while jobs requiring skilled individuals go unfilled for months on end?
In my opinion, we all collectively bowed to political correctness, and lowered the bar. We did so with such stunning efficiency that the caliber of the average individual fails to meet the minimum requirements to get the job done. We let entitlement win over hard knocks; we adopted “good enough” as the new “best in class;” we started grading performance on a sliding scale instead of valuing lessons learned. And now we, the manufacturing community, having stood by to watch this unfold, must suffer the consequences of our inaction. By allowing routine business distractions to grow into a complete lack of involvement, we have empowered others not sharing our passion or experience to speak on our behalf and decide for us. By doing so, we’re being driven into the ground.