Business behaviour

10 pts.
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CIO
CIO management
Millions of workers have lost their jobs because of downsizing. Many companies are complaining that they cannot find quality people to fill their vacancies. How do you explain this apparent contradiction visibility?

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  • TomLiotta
    After 40 years in the business world, I can't recall a time when "businesses" (a generality) were not complaining of a shortage of quality people. That's been true in good times and bad. Then again, at all times, I've known of many businesses that were fully staffed and not having problems.   There is no 'contradiction'. There is instead a generalization.   During slow times, what gets reported more are tales of trouble and of reasons for trouble. Businesses that are not performing as well as they want have spokespersons who give reasons that avoid criticizing management. Reasons like "shortage of quality people" are accepted without significant questions or investigation. There is no good avenue of investigation.   Just because reasons are given doesn't make them the actual true reasons.   Tom
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  • Ben Rubenstein
    I'd agree with Tom that there's some definite generalization going on here. But some of the situation you're describing could be due to industry shifts (need for for high-skilled tech jobs vs. some of the manufacturing jobs of the past, many of which were sent overseas). Not saying this explains everything, but it's another factor. 
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  • carlosdl
    That is not necessarily a contradiction.  One possible scenario is that when companies lay off people, they try to keep the better or more qualified workers.  In that case, there are more unemployed people, but the number of high quality workers looking for a job has not increased significantly.
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  • TomLiotta
    It's also that the definition of "quality people" changes depending on who's viewpoint is used. A basic ability to write a SQL query, a Visual Basic function and a web page or two doesn't necessarily translate to useful business knowledge. My first comment was more addressed to the generalizations rather than the wider social/economic issues, which really can't be covered sufficiently here. -- Tom
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  • James Murray
    There are a lot of ways to go with this question.  I think it's a question every "quality" person asks when they are laid off or downsized.  It's an emotional question and difficult to understand when you are in the situation.  When a company lays off workers, the reason is that the company is no longer competitive in thier own industry.  Laying off people is a last ditch effort to remain profitable.  So whether the person being downsized is a "quality" person isn't the issue.  The problem is that the skill set and experience are no longer needed in the work place.  It sounds harsh, but if the experience and skill sets were needed, then they wouldn't have been downsized.A simplified example:  If I'm certified in NT 4.0.  I might be the best NT 4.0 technician there is.  Yet if my industry requires Windows 2008 skills and experience, it doesn't matter how good I was at NT 4.0When HR departments lament the need for Quality people, what they are really saying is they need people with training and experience in the skill sets needed by companies that are competitive and not laying off people.If I don't have the skills to keep up with my industry, I am no longer a quality person in the eyes of the hiring company.  The hiring company assumes that I have integrity, compasion and am a good team worker.  That's a given.  On top of this though, I need the skills to compete.  Unfortunately any company that down sized thier work force, probably wasn't giving thier employees the opportunities to build the type of quality the more competitive companies are looking for.  If the company had developed these skills in thier people, the company would still probably been more competitive and again wouldn't have had to downsize.So in my mind there is little if any correlation between the issues of high layoffs and with the idea that with high layoffs there are lots of quality people who are looking for work.  The quality people recognize the problem early and reinvent themselves long before the layoffs happen.  Or they are in the process of getting the training and experience needed to be competive as the industry changes.
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  • TomLiotta
    When a company lays off workers, the reason is that the company is no longer competitive in thier own industry.  Laying off people is a last ditch effort to remain profitable.   That's also a generalization, and it's a generalization that's contrary to at least three of the four layoff situations I've been involved with in the past 15 years. The last three of those, all in the past five years, all happened during record profits and solid growth for leading companies in their market. All were based in the desired profits of investors from sale of companies they had grown. Layoffs of 80%-95% of workforce came after acquisitions by a new investor group.   The single earlier layoff was possibly technically more of a radical marketing reorganization. The entire manufacturing site was laid off, but AFAIK, an entire work force was brought back a few months later after restructuring of the physical facilities plus a redefinition of the primary customer base. Overall, I'm not aware that total employment dropped much on a year-end to year-end basis, but I don't have figures for the final result.   As before, this just isn't a good venue for covering such a complex issue.   Tom
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