Work Futures Daily - The Skills Gap Was A Lie

Remember the Skills Gap? | Who Pays For Paid Leave? | Cohotels | Standing Doesn’t Burn Many Calories | Inbox Infinity | Powerful Older Women Are A Thing | The Cult of Facebook

Beacon NY - 2019-01-09 — The move back to Substack has turned out to be remarkably smooth, except I still have months of old Dailies to post here (a month a week, maybe).

Starting later this month, a weekly poll, so I can tap into the community’s thinking.


I am headed to Qingtao China Saturday, attending the Haier Annual Innovation Conference, so no Dailies until my return, although I will write something about the event. Expect a new Daily on 21 January.

If you are looking for things to read while I am traveling, take a look at An End To Predictions, A Call For Revolution, especially the third section, Moving from 'Normal’ Organizations to 'Revolutionary’ Organizations.


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The “skills gap” was a lie | Matthew Yglesias reports on recent research by Alicia Sasser Modestino, Daniel Shoag, and Joshua Ballance that undercuts the story about the ‘skills gap’ that, as Yglesias says, 'everyone from the US Chamber of Commerce to the Obama White House’ was pointing to five or six years ago to explain why employers weren’t hiring.

As this chart shows, the education and experience qualifications employers were looking for got steadily higher as the unemployment rate rose during the Great Recession. Superficially one could interpret this as a “skills gap” — people couldn’t find work because they simply lacked the credential needed to work in the modern economy. Except as the unemployment rate started to fall, so did employers skill needs.


[I believe the second chart is mislabeled: 'Education Requirements’ in the table should be “Experience Requirements’.]


In other words, the skills gap was the consequence of high unemployment rather than its cause. With workers plentiful, employers got choosier. Rather than investing in training workers, they demanded lots of experience and educational credentials.

And now, with a tight labor market, employers are willing to train workers rather than call for government to do so for them. (Although, in yesterday’s Daily, Human Capital, we saw figures that show CHROs are ambivalent about retraining, to say the least.]


A California Dream for Paid Leave Has an Old Problem: How to Pay for It | Gavin Newsom the incoming California Governor wants six month paid parental leave for workers, which will cost a lot, and he has no current plan on how to fund it. Five other states plus DC offer between four and 12 weeks. Claire Cain Miller and Jim Tankersley note

The California policy would be the nation’s biggest test of the idea that longer leave, by encouraging parents not to quit their jobs and by delaying the need to pay for infant care, can help economic growth.

But the governor will face questions about whether it would require a tax increase; how the program could stay solvent if there were a recession; and how businesses would cope with employees’ long absences. California’s existing paid leave program is financed by a 1 percent payroll tax. Increasing that tax would require the approval of two-thirds of the Legislature, not assured despite Democratic control.

It’s a long stretch, I think. How about three months?


At Hotels, Space That’s Like the Office, ‘but Cooler’ | Hotels are creating coworking spaces for guests. Younger guests are more likely to want to work outside their rooms, in public spaces.

I bet WeWork will go the other way, and start building hotels into their coworking spaces.


Stand More, Lounge Less? Don’t Do It to Lose Weight | Gretchen Reynolds warns that new research affirms that standing only burns 9 more calories an hour compared to sitting, and involves other health trade-offs.


A Case for Inbox Infinity | Taylor Lorenz thinks we should just surrender to the void, and give up on Inbox Zero:

In 2019, I suggest you let it all go. There is simply no way for anyone with a full-time job and multiple inboxes to keep up with the current email climate. Even after deleting and sorting my 2,700 unread messages, I awoke the next day to more than 400 more.

If email grows past some threshold and becomes too much to handle, we need to move past the implicit cultural norm that all email received will be responded to. I personally agree with the notion of creating a forever-on out-of-office message warning people that I may never get around to their email.


I Am (an Older) Woman. Hear Me Roar. | Jessica Bennett reports on older women taking on powerful jobs, or commanding attention in a youth-obsessed world. But the backdrop is still negative:

84 percent of corporate hiring managers said they believed a “qualified but visibly older” candidate would make some employers hesitate — particularly if those candidates were women.

And while more people over 65 — almost 20 percent — are still working than at any other point since the 1960s, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, even when America’s jobless rate was close to full employment it was women over 50 who were having the hardest time finding work.

“Ageism is one of the last acceptable biases in our culture, but it powerfully intersects with sexism,” Professor [Susan] Douglas [of the University of Michigan] said.


Inside Facebook’s ‘cult-like’ workplace, where dissent is discouraged and employees pretend to be happy all the time | Salvador Rodriguez makes Facebook sound like psychic prison:

Key points:

  • More than a dozen former Facebook employees detailed how the company’s leadership and its performance review system has created a culture where any dissent is discouraged.

  • Employees say Facebook’s stack ranking performance review system drives employees to push out products and features that drive user engagement without fully considering potential long-term negative impacts on user experience or privacy.

  • Reliance on peer reviews creates an underlying pressure for Facebook employees to forge friendships with colleagues for the sake of career advancement.

I think the company has adopted the now-conventional entrepreneurial culture:

Former employees describe a top-down approach where major decisions are made by the company’s leadership, and employees are discouraged from voicing dissent — in direct contradiction to one of Sandberg’s mantras, “authentic self.”

Facebook still uses stack ranking for performance reviews, a technique falling out of favor. Microsoft dropped the practice in 2013 after widespread complaints across the company. Stack ranking creates a cutthroat atmosphere since managers can only have so many excellent reports, and so many get bad reviews as a consequence, even when undeserved.

Quote of the Day

Diversity improves the way people think. By disrupting conformity, racial and ethnic diversity prompts people to scrutinize facts, think more deeply and develop their own opinions.

Sheen Levine and David StarkDiversity Makes You Brighter

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