Live-tweeting in Haiku

Test, Pt 2

Education funding on the rise, but still below peak

Vocational training and skills mismatch


Employers in the U.S. complain they can’t find qualified workers. As GE’s experience in France shows, the problem is not unique to American industry. While French jobless claims rose to 2.92 million, or 10 percent of the working-age population, at the end of May, a survey released by Pôle Emploi, the government employment agency, showed that about 43 percent of French companies were unable to recruit the workers they need; that’s up five percentage points from a year earlier. In some industries, two thirds of the companies encountered difficulties hiring.
It’s not just high-level engineers who are in short supply. Cooks and other lower-level workers are needed. The shortfall for home nursing and cleaning jobs was the highest, at 67 percent; it was 62 percent for engineers, 61 percent for cooks, and 58 percent for hospital nurses.
The skills mismatch reflects France’s inability to adapt its educational and vocational training to business needs, as neighboring Germany has done. Every year half a million German businesses take on teenage apprentices to teach them a trade: The apprentices supplement their on-the-job training with classes at vocational schools. “In Germany, not only are vocational training firms obligated to provide details to the government on their job placements, but trainers’ pay is partly dependent on how many trainees find a job, which forces them to build classes around well-identified needs,” says Marc Ferracci, a professor at the Université Paris-Est Marne-la-Vallée, who co-authored a report last year on vocational training for research center Institut Montaigne. The result: Youth unemployment (for those 15 to 24) in Germany was 8.5 percent; France’s is 22 percent.
France’s educational system looks down on vocational training, perpetuating the notion that intellectual jobs are more worthy than manual work, says Jérôme Frantz, chairman of the Fédération des Industries Mécaniques, whose member companies make parts for everything from machine tools to trains and wind turbines. “For years, there has been a deep hatred in the education system regarding manufacturing, which was ideological,” he says, referring to the French Left. GE’s Gaymard adds: “People don’t want to work in manufacturing anymore, as they’ve been told for a decade that plants were going to China.” The mechanical industries federation started an advertising campaign in June to lure job seekers to manufacturing. It needs about 40,000 people a year over five years to replace retiring workers and expand.

I reckon a lot of this would also apply in the US…

‘Oh, I get it, you’re busy’

Busyness serves as a kind of existential reassurance, a hedge against emptiness; obviously your life cannot possibly be silly or trivial or meaningless if you are so busy, completely booked, in demand every hour of the day. I once knew a woman who interned at a magazine where she wasn’t allowed to take lunch hours out, lest she be urgently needed for some reason. This was an entertainment magazine whose raison d’être was obviated when “menu” buttons appeared on remotes, so it’s hard to see this pretense of indispensability as anything other than a form of institutional self-delusion. More and more people in this country no longer make or do anything tangible; if your job wasn’t performed by a cat or a boa constrictor in a Richard Scarry book I’m not sure I believe it’s necessary. I can’t help but wonder whether all this histrionic exhaustion isn’t a way of covering up the fact that most of what we do doesn’t matter.

Hits close to home.

Did permit processing times really improve that much?

From the hometown profile of DBPR secretary Ken Lawson (Gainesville Sun, Feb. 3, 2012):

“Our main focus with Gov. Scott is creating jobs and with our department to streamline the process so folks can get licenses and start businesses and get to work as quickly as possible.”

That doesn’t mean a free pass for anyone to get a license, he said. The regulations still have to balance the need for public safety. As a former federal prosecutor, he said he still believes in enforcement.

The department is trying to take a kinder and gentler approach to enforcement. Hotel and restaurant inspectors have traded cargo pants and badges for khakis, button-down shirts and credentials. They hand out bill-of-rights cards to business owners.

“We looked like police instead of regulators,” Lawson said. “It sets the tone that we’re partners.”

He said the department has reduced the average time to process licenses to two or three days whereas years ago it took weeks or months.