A Closer Look

US Skills Gap / What if these assumptions are all wrong?

It is conventional wisdom that the United States is suffering from a severe skills shortage, for which low-performing public schools and inadequate teachers must shoulder part of the blame (see here and here, for example).  Employers complain that they cannot fill open slots because there are no Americans skilled enough to fill them, while pundits and policymakers – President Barack Obama and Bill Gates, among them – respond by pushing for unproven school reform proposals, in a desperate effort to rebuild American economic competitiveness.

But, what if these assumptions are all wrong?

What if the deficiencies of our educational system have little to do with our current competitiveness woes? A fascinating new book by Peter Cappelli, Why Good People Can’t Get Jobs: The Skills Gap and What Companies Can Do About It , builds a strong case that common business practices – failure to invest adequately in on-the-job training, offering noncompetitive wages and benefits, and relying on poorly designed computer algorithms to screen applicants –are to blame, not failed schools or poorly prepared applicants.

Cappelli, a professor of management and director of the Wharton School’s Center for Human Resources, has been making the rounds (here, here, here, and here), trying to introduce some balance, logic, and research evidence into the debate over skills, educational performance, and economic competitiveness. In his book and many interviews, Cappelli notes that there are two central parts to the debate…

Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor from

Capture d’écran 2013-02-07 à 10.54.28

via Shanker Blog » A New Twist On The Skills “Blame Game”.

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