In my previous blog “The Talent Problem - Part I”, we discussed the high skilled worker shortage, especially in STEM field. We also reviewed issues about why so many millennials are over-qualified for their jobs from a degree standpoint. Part II will review the talent surplus issues related to mid-skilled workers and low-skilled workers. Their challenges are also caused by advancement of technology but with a very different outcome.
It is very easy to get people to agree that we are facing a talent shortage issue these days. I was stressed over trying to recruit good engineers as a hiring manager for over a decade. However, it is also very interesting to read articles recently about millennial being the most educated generation but also the most overqualified workforce. Isn’t that a great puzzle, that we can’t find candidates for the high-skilled jobs when we have the most educated generation? At the same time, they are taking jobs that they are overqualified for. So, what is going on regarding our talent pipeline?
People who know me probably know that I am a big fan of NPR, especially Planet Money and its spin off The Indicator. I recently heard one of The Indicator’s episodes called “Economics of A Border Wall”. The episode was very interesting but what was even more interesting to me was the story told by the fire chief Jesus Morales.
More than a decade ago, I was working hard to climb the corporate ladder. My responsibility at that time focused on the targeted overseas market, which was the reason our senior leadership visited us over there very often. Here is the story. There was one time that I had a chance to join our president for dinner to introduce myself, but I turned it down. What was the reason? It was because I promised my family to be on webcam and listen to them practice during a long multiple weeks’ overseas travel.
You can find in so many coaching books that building a personal relationship with influential people is critical for careers. So, was that a difficult decision to skip such a wonderful networking opportunity? Not really, because I have decided that family is the most important thing to me. Of course, I did participate in many social events and there is no doubt those helped my career. The key message is what would be the choice when things are in conflict?
I heard an interesting article “Medical Detectives: The Last Hope For Families Coping With Rare Diseases” on NPR today about a four year diagnostic process for a rare disease on a pair of brothers. This story introduced the “Undiagnosed Disease Network” and I was amazed about their efforts and successes. It also reminds me of the challenges we face in our own work.
I used to attend local chapter meetings with our I.E. technician. She always told me that we engineers have a very strange sense of humor that she doesn’t understand. I argued with her that our jokes are great, we understand each other perfectly, and we are perfectly normal like everyone else. Our conversations typically ended with her saying, “yeah right.”
This happens in business presentations and conversations too. I’ve seen brilliant engineers and scientists have challenges to present to a wider audience. It happened even when their projects or careers are at stake. Communication skills are becoming critical as projects are getting more complicated and teamwork is becoming a must. The bright side is, there are approaches and processes to enhance our communication skills. I will write more on this subject, but let’s focus on presentation for management this time.
This is not the first time I’ve published an article, but it is the first post of a series of blogs that I am going to do. Therefore, I think it is a very appropriate to start with something that guided my life, especially my professional life. It was a statement about the “circle of kindness”.