Why Good People Can't Get Jobs: The Skills Gap and What Companies Can Do About It

Wharton Digital Press
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Peter Cappelli confronts the myth of the skills gap and provides an actionable path forward to put people back to work.

Even in a time of perilously high unemployment, companies contend that they cannot find the employees they need. Pointing to a skills gap, employers argue applicants are simply not qualified; schools aren't preparing students for jobs; the government isn't letting in enough high-skill immigrants; and even when the match is right, prospective employees won't accept jobs at the wages offered.

In this powerful and fast-reading book, Peter Cappelli, Wharton management professor and director of Wharton's Center for Human Resources, debunks the arguments and exposes the real reasons good people can't get hired. Drawing on jobs data, anecdotes from all sides of the employer-employee divide, and interviews with jobs professionals, he explores the paradoxical forces bearing down on the American workplace and lays out solutions that can help us break through what has become a crippling employer-employee stand-off.

Among the questions he confronts: Is there really a skills gap? To what extent is the hiring process being held hostage by automated software that can crunch thousands of applications an hour? What kind of training could best bridge the gap between employer expectations and applicant realities, and who should foot the bill for it? Are schools really at fault?

Named one of HR Magazine's Top 20 Most Influential Thinkers of 2011, Cappelli not only changes the way we think about hiring but points the way forward to rev America's job engine again.
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About the author

Peter Cappelli is the George W. Taylor Professor of Management at The Wharton School and Director of Wharton’s Center for Human Resources. His recent research examines changes in employment relations in the U.S. and their implications. Cappelli writes a monthly column on workforce issues for Human Resource Executive Online and has contributed to the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, Bloomberg Businessweek, and other news venues. His books include Why Good People Can’t Get Jobs: The Skills Gap and What Companies Can Do About It, Managing the Older Worker: How to Prepare for the New Organizational Order (with Harbir Singh, Jitendra Singh, and Michael Useem), The India Way: How India’s Business Leaders are Revolutionizing Management, Talent on Demand: Managing Talent in the Age of Uncertainty, and The New Deal at Work: Managing the Market-Driven Workforce.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Wharton Digital Press
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Published on
May 29, 2012
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Pages
128
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ISBN
9781613630136
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Language
English
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Genres
Business & Economics / Economics / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM free.
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The decision of whether to go to college, or where, is hampered by poor information and inadequate understanding of the financial risk involved.

Adding to the confusion, the same degree can cost dramatically different amounts for different people. A barrage of advertising offers new degrees designed to lead to specific jobs, but we see no information on whether graduates ever get those jobs. Mix in a frenzied applications process, and pressure from politicians for “relevant” programs, and there is an urgent need to separate myth from reality.

Peter Cappelli, an acclaimed expert in employment trends, the workforce, and education, provides hard evidence that counters conventional wisdom and helps us make cost-effective choices. Among the issues Cappelli analyzes are:

•What is the real link between a college degree and a job that enables you to pay off the cost of college, especially in a market that is in constant change?
•Why it may be a mistake to pursue degrees that will land you the hottest jobs because what is hot today is unlikely to be so by the time you graduate.
•Why the most expensive colleges may actually be the cheapest because of their ability to graduate students on time.
•How parents and students can find out what different colleges actually deliver to students and whether it is something that employers really want.

College is the biggest expense for many families, larger even than the cost of the family home, and one that can bankrupt students and their parents if it works out poorly. Peter Cappelli offers vital insight for parents and students to make decisions that both make sense financially and provide the foundation that will help students make their way in the world.
The New York Times bestselling Freakonomics changed the way we see the world, exposing the hidden side of just about everything. Then came SuperFreakonomics, a documentary film, an award-winning podcast, and more.

Now, with Think Like a Freak, Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner have written their most revolutionary book yet. With their trademark blend of captivating storytelling and unconventional analysis, they take us inside their thought process and teach us all to think a bit more productively, more creatively, more rationally—to think, that is, like a Freak.

Levitt and Dubner offer a blueprint for an entirely new way to solve problems, whether your interest lies in minor lifehacks or major global reforms. As always, no topic is off-limits. They range from business to philanthropy to sports to politics, all with the goal of retraining your brain. Along the way, you’ll learn the secrets of a Japanese hot-dog-eating champion, the reason an Australian doctor swallowed a batch of dangerous bacteria, and why Nigerian e-mail scammers make a point of saying they’re from Nigeria.

Some of the steps toward thinking like a Freak:

First, put away your moral compass—because it’s hard to see a problem clearly if you’ve already decided what to do about it. Learn to say “I don’t know”—for until you can admit what you don’t yet know, it’s virtually impossible to learn what you need to. Think like a child—because you’ll come up with better ideas and ask better questions. Take a master class in incentives—because for better or worse, incentives rule our world. Learn to persuade people who don’t want to be persuaded—because being right is rarely enough to carry the day. Learn to appreciate the upside of quitting—because you can’t solve tomorrow’s problem if you aren’t willing to abandon today’s dud.

Levitt and Dubner plainly see the world like no one else. Now you can too. Never before have such iconoclastic thinkers been so revealing—and so much fun to read.

Which is more dangerous, a gun or a swimming pool? What do schoolteachers and sumo wrestlers have in common? Why do drug dealers still live with their moms? How much do parents really matter? How did the legalization of abortion affect the rate of violent crime?

These may not sound like typical questions for an economist to ask. But Steven D. Levitt is not a typical economist. He is a much-heralded scholar who studies the riddles of everyday life—from cheating and crime to sports and child-rearing—and whose conclusions turn conventional wisdom on its head.

Freakonomics is a groundbreaking collaboration between Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner, an award-winning author and journalist. They usually begin with a mountain of data and a simple question. Some of these questions concern life-and-death issues; others have an admittedly freakish quality. Thus the new field of study contained in this book: Freakonomics.

Through forceful storytelling and wry insight, Levitt and Dubner show that economics is, at root, the study of incentives—how people get what they want, or need, especially when other people want or need the same thing. In Freakonomics, they explore the hidden side of . . . well, everything. The inner workings of a crack gang. The truth about real-estate agents. The myths of campaign finance. The telltale marks of a cheating schoolteacher. The secrets of the Ku Klux Klan.

What unites all these stories is a belief that the modern world, despite a great deal of complexity and downright deceit, is not impenetrable, is not unknowable, and—if the right questions are asked—is even more intriguing than we think. All it takes is a new way of looking.

Freakonomics establishes this unconventional premise: If morality represents how we would like the world to work, then economics represents how it actually does work. It is true that readers of this book will be armed with enough riddles and stories to last a thousand cocktail parties. But Freakonomics can provide more than that. It will literally redefine the way we view the modern world.

Bonus material added to the revised and expanded 2006 edition

The original New York Times Magazine article about Steven D. Levitt by Stephen J. Dubner, which led to the creation of this book.

Seven “Freakonomics” columns written for the New York Times Magazine, published between August 2005 and April 2006.

Selected entries from the Freakonomics blog, posted between April 2005 and May 2006 at http://www.freakonomics.com/blog/.

A far-reaching transformation is taking place in the US in the relationship between employers and employees. The lessons learned from Japan and from "best practice" companies like IBM about how job security, training, and internal development can improve employee commitment and performance have given way to a new set of lessons about how companies can redue fixed costs, increase flexibility, and improve performance by eliminating the elaborate employment systems that prepared employees for long careers in the company. Where the old arrangement protected employees from outside market forces, the new ones drag the market right back in through downsizing, contingent workforces, hiring on the outside for new skills, and compensation contingent on overall organizational performance. New work systems that reengineer processes and empower employees "flatten" the organizational chart, cutting management jobs in particular and reducing opportunities for career development. The new arrangements shift many of the risks of business from the firm to the employees and make employees, rather than employers, responsible for developing their own skills and careers. They also increase the demands placed on workers while reducing what they receive back for their efforts. While morale is down and stress is up, employee performance seems to be rising largely because of fear driven by the shortage of good jobs. Change at Work explores the theme that employees have paid the price for the widespread restructuring of American firms as illustrated by reduced security, greater effort and hours, and reduced morale. In this important study--commissioned by the National Planning Asociation's Committee on New American Realities--the authors consider how individuals and employers need to adapt to the new arrangements as well as the implicatioons for important policy issues such as how skills will be developed where the attachment to the firms is sharply reduced. The future is uncertain, but the authors argue that the traditional relationship between employer and employee will continue to erode, making this work essential reading for managers concerned with the profound impact corporate restructuring has had on the lives of workers.
The decision of whether to go to college, or where, is hampered by poor information and inadequate understanding of the financial risk involved.

Adding to the confusion, the same degree can cost dramatically different amounts for different people. A barrage of advertising offers new degrees designed to lead to specific jobs, but we see no information on whether graduates ever get those jobs. Mix in a frenzied applications process, and pressure from politicians for “relevant” programs, and there is an urgent need to separate myth from reality.

Peter Cappelli, an acclaimed expert in employment trends, the workforce, and education, provides hard evidence that counters conventional wisdom and helps us make cost-effective choices. Among the issues Cappelli analyzes are:

•What is the real link between a college degree and a job that enables you to pay off the cost of college, especially in a market that is in constant change?
•Why it may be a mistake to pursue degrees that will land you the hottest jobs because what is hot today is unlikely to be so by the time you graduate.
•Why the most expensive colleges may actually be the cheapest because of their ability to graduate students on time.
•How parents and students can find out what different colleges actually deliver to students and whether it is something that employers really want.

College is the biggest expense for many families, larger even than the cost of the family home, and one that can bankrupt students and their parents if it works out poorly. Peter Cappelli offers vital insight for parents and students to make decisions that both make sense financially and provide the foundation that will help students make their way in the world.
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