SAY NO TO JOB MIS MATCH
SAY NO TO JOB MIS MATCH
One wonders why we have a persistent problem with high unemployment and underemployment, and yet have so many jobs persistently waiting to be filled. The usual answer is that we face a jobs-skills mismatch wherein the training of our jobseekers simply does not match the requirements of the companies looking for people to fill their vacancies. This mismatch problem appears to span job categories ranging from the relatively low skilled to highly specialized ones. It is also a problem seen in both the private and public sectors.
In many cases, the skills mismatch is very real. Philippine Business for Education (PBEd), through its research partner Brain Trust Inc. (BTI), interviewed various companies’ human resource officers as part of its USAID-funded Higher Education for Productivity Project (HEPP). A large industrial firm in Batangas needs dozens of engineers for its projected expansion, but can’t find suitable recruits. I know one government department needing dozens of specialists in a particular field, but has so far found only two qualified applicants among the many who have applied. We all know of the mad rush students made to nursing schools in past years, and the equally mad rush of certain colleges and universities to offer nursing courses to meet the demand. It didn’t take long to reach a glut of nursing graduates; now they are the ones actually paying to be able to work in hospitals for needed work experience. Otherwise they end up working in call centers or totally unrelated jobs, putting their highly specialized training to naught.
But the perceived technical skills mismatch appears illusory in other contexts. I’ve heard a number of human resource officers say that what they are looking for, but have difficulty finding in their applicants, are not so much technical skills (such as those obtained in science, engineering and technology courses) but more of “soft” ones: communication and presentation skills, analytical ability, resourcefulness, creativity, motivation, ability to work in a team, honesty and the like. These are all too often neglected in the schools where the workers are trained. One might well argue that some of these “soft” skills cannot be taught in school. On the other hand, the technical skills demanded by the job can often be readily imparted through in-company training, making the specific technical training of the applicant less critical. Many employers only look for any college degree, and for as long as applicants possess the desired “soft” skills, they will take care of the rest. Here, the mismatch is not in technical training, but in something more fundamental.