Friday, 5 July 2019

The Labour Shortage Lie

This week I read this article Employers seek overseas applicants for tradie jobs in Adelaide, the article starts with:

'Younger generations not wanting "to get their hands dirty" combined with outsourcing of manufacturing offshore has left Adelaide industries struggling with a skills shortage, employment experts say.

This has led to a number (of) trades struggling to fill jobs, as businesses look to overseas workers to fill vacant positions.'

Here is an article about Canada's fake labour shortage, Labour shortage Canada economy

Here is another on America's fake labour shortage, Labor shortage workers us

However I have been hearing this since the 1980's, that idea that young people are so entitled that we need too look elsewhere for labour. Back then it was a joke.

A job seeker is in an interview and the interviewer asks what the job seeker wants from the company to consider working there. The job seeker replies that he wants "$80,000 and a company car". The interviewer responses with "how about a corner office, personal assistant and a high end car?". The job seeker exclaims happily "your joking" and the interviewer comes back with "yes, but you started it!".

Why do young people have these expectations?

Because that is what they are encouraged to want. I remember being told that I didn't want to work in a factory so I had to do well. I remember hearing a teacher tell a student that they should try harder at school because then they could become a lawyer or Prime Minister!

I went to a technical school, but even there this rubbish was alive and that was 30 years ago.

Of course the problem isn't young people, it is the disconnect between government, schools and what skills are really needed in the real world by employers. And they are all to blame. The government treats school and the work place as totally separate things that should never have anything to do with each other. Schools do not teach to help people get or keep jobs. Employers always want someone else, the taxpayer, to finance the skills that they need to run their business.

This is allowed because our economy is an open economy. In a closed economy only those people in the economy could participate in it. In an open economy people from all over the world can participate. That means that the locals are discarded in favour of foreign workers, instead of taking the unemployed or the disabled as workers.

The call is always that the local worker cannot or will not work, that they are lazy and a drain. Which implies that the employer and the foreign workers are performing a patriotic act by replacing them!

Of course the reality is that employers like foreign workers because they can pay them less, sometimes much less. Secondly the foreign worker is in a servant relationship to their employer. They will often put up with terms and conditions that a local worker would not tolerate.

The labour shortage lie is a rebellion by employers against high wages and regulations. They seek to find a way to get around these things. In a closed economy they couldn't because they could not get foreign workers into the country, nor could they export that labour. In a real labour shortage, like during the World Wars, everyone with a heart beat is drawn into the economy. Unemployment ends, women, minorities, the disabled are all employed as much as possible. We do not have those conditions, therefore we do not have a labour shortage. And if we did higher wages are what draw people into employment.   

Labour shortage?

Lies, lies, always lies!

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  1. My husband owns a landscape maintenance company in Silicon Valley. Positions pay well and include health benefits. It's tough, sweaty work. Rarely, if ever, do young or college age apply. He has a labor shortage. It is tough to find hard-working, reliable employees to do labor focused work. No starbucks perks or free lunches. Maybe a tamale party or BBQ once a quarter. So, perhaps the point is no one wants to do back breaking work. Everyone wants to be a movie star or an engineer...or President. Our education system is building up, even the least qualified, that they can do anything. Perhaps this has something to do with blue collar jobs qualified labor shortages. That is a very real thing here in the U.S.

  2. Our education system is building up, even the least qualified, that they can do anything.

    True in my experience. Young people who would be well suited to a trade are encouraged instead (unrealistically) to be lawyers and such like.

    Having said that, there are lots of boys who do seek apprenticeships but they are difficult to get. Some of these boys (not all) probably do need mentoring to lift them to an adult standard - they are not ready made. It can be easier for employers, therefore, to avoid the hassle by hiring overseas workers on 457 visas. In a closed economy, there wouldn't be this option and the mentoring would have to take place.

    Finally, some of the social dysfunction in society is biting here as well. Some of the boys who would have succeeded in trades in years gone by aren't as fit for work as they could be (e.g. boys who have never grown up with a working father to emulate, or who haven't built character from active membership in a sports club etc.)

    I say this because the quality of boys my own school sends out into the trades is uneven. Some I am confident will succeed and maybe one day run their own businesses, others struggle with responsibility/reliability - and have some educational deficits.

    By the way, thought you put this very well:

    "The labour shortage lie is a rebellion by employers against high wages and regulations."

  3. According to economic theory, the price of a good is the price the seller and buyer agree on, which is usually the maximum price the buyer can bear.

    Jobs are going unfilled because the buyer of labour is not prepared to pay the true market cost. You see, when an Australian wants to buy a home, he must pay market rate or go without. There is no expectation that their is a "fair" price, or that it should even be affordable. Buyers are ignored if they want a "fair" price, they must, must abide by the market.

    But labour is not treated to the same mechanism. Business is allowed to complain that the market itself is not fair.