Weekly Wrap: Why Won’t More Businesses Train New Workers?

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May 9, 2014

American business is failing when it comes to helping prepare our workforce of the future.

According to new research from Accenture, the big global consulting firm, although most college graduates (80 percent) expect their employer to give them some formal training, 52 percent of graduates over the last two years say they did not receive any training at all in their first job.

If that’s not depressing enough, consider this: Nearly half (46 percent) of those who graduated in 2012 and 2013 consider themselves underemployed and working in jobs that do not require their college degrees, an increase from 41 percent of recent grads participating in last year’s Accenture survey.

“No material movement” to close the training gap

As a father of two relatively recent college grads who have struggled to find meaningful post-college work, this is not only terribly depressing but a huge indictment of everything that’s wrong with American business today.

Not only are companies sitting on their profits — in many cases, huge profits — and not hiring new employees, but far too many seem to have zero commitment to helping build, or invest in, their workforce of tomorrow.

Yes, business today seems to want ready-made workers that they can simply plug-in, probably underpay, and save more money on. But, too many seem to want someone else to handle the training and development.

The Accenture 2014 College Graduate Employment Survey polled 1,010 students who will be graduating from college this year (in 2014) and 1,005 students who graduated from college the last two years (2012 and 2013), in order to compare the perceptions of students preparing to enter the job market with the experiences of recent grads already in the workforce.

“Graduates are leaving college expecting to receive corporate training, but despite the skills shortage, there is still no material movement by organizations to help close the gap,” said David Smith, global managing director, Accenture Talent & Organization at Accenture Strategy, in a press release about the survey.

He added: “The building of a strong and sustainable talent supply chain is dependent on better preparing and developing our entry-level employees and, without greater investment in talent development, companies will continue to find themselves with a workforce lacking in the right skills.”

More graduates working in part-time jobs

The study found that only 11 percent of students graduating in 2014 had already secured a job at the time of this year’s research, compared to 16 percent of last year’s graduating class. Nearly half (46 percent) of the 2012 and 2013 graduates surveyed this year are currently employed full-time, down from 68 percent of 2011/2012 graduates responding last year.

And there’s this sobering note: 27 percent of the 2012 and 2013 grads are working part-time, significantly up from 16 percent of last year’s respondents.

This year’s Accenture survey also highlighted a gap between expectations and reality on the speed of graduates landing a job and the willingness to relocate to do so.

  • 69 percent of pending 2014 grads expect to find a job within six months of graduation, but only 42 percent of the 2012 and 2013 graduates said they did so.
  • Three-quarters (74 percent) of pending 2014 grads said they would be willing to relocate to another state to find a job, but only 21 percent of 2012 and 2013 graduates surveyed said they ultimately did so.

There’s a lot more in this new survey, and most of it is pretty depressing when it comes to Millennials and younger people entering the workforce. My guess is that this lack of investment by American business in our future workforce will continue — until companies figure out it is in their best interest to spend money to train and build the skills they need in new employees.

Yes, I think this will eventually happen, but don’t hold your breath on it happening any time soon.

Of course, there’s more going on this week than the latest survey on the lack of workforce training. Here are some HR and workplace-related items you may have missed. This is TLNT’s weekly round-up of news, trends, and insights from the world of talent management. I do it so you don’t have to.

  • Legislating against “perma-temp” worker policies. More workers are in what is called “perms-temp” work arrangements, and according to the Los Angeles Times, “Employers across California increasingly are cutting labor costs by using long-term temporary workers — and not employees — to pick crops, sew garments, clean hotel rooms, flip burgers and toil in a range of low-wage industries. This trend toward “perma-temps” has alarmed workers, labor unions and their allies who are concerned about the growth of so-called staffing agencies that do the hiring of these temporary workers and handle the wages. The use of these workers and their treatment are the focus of a major battle in Sacramento this year between organized labor and business groups.”
  • Intern hiring will shrink. The U.S. Department of Labor’s war on internships (and that’s my characterization) is having the intended effect. According to The Boston Globe, “Businesses will hire 3 percent fewer interns nationwide in 2014. But in the Northeast, companies expect to increase intern hiring by 10 percent. The numbers come from the National Association of College and Employers, which tracks how college grads and students mingle with the larger workforce. …With a 3.4 percent drop expected (nationwide), this year will mark the first since 2009, in the wake of the financial crisis, that companies will take on fewer interns than the year before.”
  • Surviving a tyrant boss. Here’s a great article from Miami Herald workplace blogger Cindy Krischer Goodman on a great topic — dealing with a tyrant boss. She asks: “Must you be a tyrant to lead your business to success? Steve Jobs was tyrant. The business world is famous for its difficult bosses. But there are plenty of bosses who prove that a more collaborative style is equally as successful.
  • Top office odors you want to avoid. This blog post at, the website for the San Francisco Chronicle, digs into a smelly topic — offensive odors in the workplace. As the post puts it, “There’s nothing as distracting to the nose as a piece of microwaved fish or reheated broccoli cheese soup from your favorite Financial District deli. In fact, it’s almost impossible to concentrate with the pungent odor of certain foods floating around. Although taping a list of foods you may not heat up on the microwave door can help keep scents under control, most uncomfortable scenarios can be avoided if everyone is a bit more conscious.”
  • Labor Department lobbying for a hike in the minimum wage. Should the U.S. Department of Labor be actively lobbying for an increase in the federal minimum wage? It’s a reasonable question, but it’s something that is already going on whether you believe this is the role of the Labor Department or not. And, they’ve spent some bucks on this video as well. It’s worth taking a look at, and i would lobe your comments on whether or not this is the role we want this federal agency to be playing.