Connecting Talent: Is Technology a Problem?

We’re a Chamber of Commerce with about 2,000 members. We meet one-on-one with about 700 individual business owners/managers each year. From small businesses to Fortune 500 enterprise, the number one need they express to us is frustration over trying (and failing) to find qualified workers.

The job openings we hear about are in all kinds of categories, including IT, sales, customer/client support and manufacturing. But I question whether it’s really a people problem (the people with these skills don’t exist) or a systems problem (the connecting system for posting jobs and applying for jobs is broken).

Michael Dalby of The Columbus Chamber
Michael Dalby, President & CEO of The Columbus Chamber

Is there really no one out there who can do the work, or are we just not efficiently connecting the talent to the work?

I have a sneaking suspicion that technology, as wonderful as it may be, is part of the problem. Thirty years ago, if a business had a job opening, they took out an ad in the local newspaper classifieds. And if you were looking for work, there was one place to look– the classifieds. Now, there are dozens of places to post a job opening. If you don’t post in the “right” place, your job might not be seen by the “right” audience.

All this means that looking for a job has also become much more complicated. Those same multiple places to list a job opening are confusing for job seekers, and the use of electronic means to sift through and rapidly eliminate candidates (key word searches, multiple types of applications, etc.) leave little room for finding the truly unique candidate.

Do you really need a bachelor’s degree to be a top salesperson? Is it possible for a college dropout to be an ace programmer? Could someone with a degree in 19th Century British Literature become a great engineering project manager?

I think we all know the answer to those questions. But I think there are other questions we should ask before just assuming the problem lies with one institution (schools not doing their job) or the other (businesses demanding an unnecessarily narrow set of skills, yet not willing to pay enough to hire the talent). The problem may lie with the very tool we assumed to be the solution– technology.

So how do we address that? How do we make it better? I invite you to share your thoughts with us here.

The Columbus Chamber is your workforce resource in the Columbus region. Call on us— we are here to serve you.