Even if your own employment situation is rosy, you could probably add similar stories of your own. Perhaps it’s a spouse in mid-career transition who keeps running up against web-based applicant-management systems that request irrelevant minutia like high-school GPA. It could be a sibling flummoxed by an inflexible offer for an advanced-practice nursing job that pays less than an entry-level RN can make doing shift work.
Or maybe you’re despairing over your daughter’s chances of scoring an unpaid internship as a stepping stone to full-time work—in which case, don’t read the next sentence. According to Penn Career Services director Patricia Rose, internships have become the hottest new items at elite prep-school fundraiser auctions, where parents are literally buying plum summer positions for their kids.
Anecdotes like these, Cappelli says, are just the tip of an iceberg of troubling data. In his latest book, Why Good People Can’t Get Jobs: The Skills Gap and What Companies Can Do About It (Wharton Digital Press, 2012), he explores America’s dysfunctional jobs market and concludes that the skills gap—at least as it’s most commonly formulated (“Schools aren’t giving kids the right kind of training. The government isn’t letting in enough high-skill immigrants. The list goes on and on”)—isn’t really to blame.
“The real culprits,” he contends, “are the employers themselves.”
Is it the employers?