Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Companies restructure faster by firing and hiring, not retraining

As many of the country’s largest employers eliminate thousands of jobs, they’re simultaneously hiring workers for new positions to adapt to the market’s changing needs, according to a Wall Street Journal article published yesterday.

U.S. employers eliminated 539,000 jobs in April alone, said the Labor Department on Friday. However, the government also estimates that employers hired roughly 4.4 million workers in February, the most recent numbers available.

"It's not just routine turnover," says Lori Kletzer, an economics professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz. "Quite often the people being laid off don't have the requisite set of skills or experience to move into the growth areas."

Some experts say the churn also shows changes in workplace policies. In past decades, many employers retrained and relocated underused workers, says Peter Cappelli, director of the Center for Human Resources at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School. “Now they've discovered that you can restructure even faster by laying off and hiring.” (WSJ)

Microsoft, IBM, AT&T, Yahoo and Time Warner are among the companies laying off thousands, while hiring new workers to fill positions in different business units, other places or to fill a need for new skills.

These latest employment numbers support a belief that many Americans currently share -- without continued training and skills development, their current workplace skills will be outdated within the next few years.

Workers across all generations depend on training and development to stay competitive in the changing labor market, but more than three-quarters of Americans believe the training provided by their employers will fail to meet their future career needs.

Has your company decided to fire and hire, instead of training existing employees for new positions? Is it the employer’s responsibility to develop workers’ skills for their future career needs?

Leave a comment and let us know what you think.

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