Op-Ed

Skilled, older workers disappear in job market seeking IT literacy

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When it comes to the workforce, I’m a non-traditional ’tweener.

I am between AARP and Social Security, between jobs, between too many skills and not the right ones, between self-directed worker and not dependent enough worker, between “you have amazing experience” and “we need someone we can teach,” between trying not to be underemployed and trying to earn a living wage, between wanting to work and wanting to avoid desperation, between the time of submitted application and silence, between needing a job and wanting to know my work matters.

It means loyalty if I fit, but that doesn’t appear to be a feature of an information-technology job market. Like many in the workforce, I have disappeared.

Looking for work is challenging, you can’t walk up to the huge brick-and mortar-construct anymore. The challenge is online. Constantly through this electronic format your privacy is in peril. The terms of use and privacy policies of any job site leave my rights stomped, scattered, smashed and chunked. No online source, so far, has proved that my privacy is important to them. They’ve got their sticky fingers all over my information; and they will sell, transfer, convey or otherwise share it without limitation.

Now, really, what kind of introduction is this to a potential employer? I hit that X icon before I can exhale. I’ve learned to unsubscribe from these sites quickly. Did you know you have to unsubscribe before subscribing? This, I think, is IT language.

There are some trust issues swirling about the relationship of employer and employee. Herald-Leader columnist Tom Eblen wrote that there are a little over 1,000 companies in Kentucky that can’t find skilled workers. Where are they looking and, yes, what are they providing? Where do companies look for workers, only on job sites? Do these companies have their own websites where an application can be submitted?

There’s a challenge applying online; it’s a process that can eliminate you from any job. Ask a human resource reviewer what happened to your application and their response is, “We got hundreds of applications for that position.” You have to trip and fall. Attach a cover letter separately that should have been attached to your resume, then you’re deleted. Can you apply with just a resume? Does your veteran status matter? It’s a practice of climbing the rock face of employment.

I’d suggest that skilled workers have disappeared from today’s employment process due to infringement and the toil. Don’t deduce they’ve quit looking for work as the Bridging the Talent Gap survey indicates in Eblen’s column. It might be they’re finding another way.

The survey suggests that these companies need to be more flexible and supportive of continuing education for workers. Companies need to find a way to support employee rights of privacy and respect that some skilled workers are between computer literate and computer wizardry.

And what happened to the eight-hour workday? Many employers demand 10 to 12 hour days. Can human beings work 10 to 12 hours and care for their families and care for a parent or grandchildren? Will they be skilled, exhausted or simply disappeared?

Mix some human kindness with non-traditional human interest, and companies will find that skilled workers will appear.

Eileen Dare, an Air Force veteran who lives in Lexington, plans to take a temporary job helping federal Hurricane Harvey recovery efforts. Reach her at lexedare@gmail.com.

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