Op-Ed

Fewer incentives for corporations to train, promote their employees

Doug Epling of Lexington is an IT business consultant.
Doug Epling of Lexington is an IT business consultant.

A recent commentary was sincerely aimed at helping recent graduates or those struggling to emerge from the lower echelons of our economy. But it also propagates a myth of opportunity in corporations that does not exist and may mislead readers.

For example, Xerox employs hundreds, if not thousands, of lower-echelon workers in the Lexington area, paying them what has come to light as a bare minimum wage. Local politicians might as well have heralded a new McDonalds.

Today, not many corporations care about these human resources as if they are human beings. They do not nurture or give credence to the notion of a worker's fundamental need to learn and grow.

Corporations pressure universities to build teamwork into technology curriculum. I can almost hear them saying, "That is not part of our business."

Colleges acquiesce to lacing academic programs with developmental programs about which they have no clue. But corporations will continue to press forward any avenue they think will save them a nickel. If they can put off developing employee self-esteem and self-actualization, the market compels them to do so.

Another reality is the current state of technology human-resources recruitment. Corporations have discovered they can save money by hiring independent contractors through recruitment firms. Corporations are saving money and recruiters are making money. Who is on the losing end in this scenario?

Furthermore, those companies are not looking for human potential that can grow within the organization, and thereby grow the organization. Recruiters are often less tech-savvy than 10-year-olds; they are looking for a cookie-cutter mold of skills.

Although we are hearing corporations whine about a mythical tech worker shortage, things seem to be chugging along with the status quo. While growth in need for mid- to upper-echelon workers is at best stagnant, the current pool of these workers is not diminished. In other words, a route to the top opens only if someone dies. And that is a terrible, horrible waste of human capital that makes our national debt pale in comparison.

It was not always this way. Before globalization, it was accepted that organizations facilitate production of a marketable product by facilitating human potential within the organization.

Just this year, the American Society for Training and Development went out of business It is replaced by the Association for Talent Development. "America" no longer necessary, the focus has shifted. I believe skill can be trained, but can you train talent?

With declining quality and increasing exclusivity through cost, pulling ourselves up with bootstraps laced through our education system seems dubious. If there are patriotic American organizations left, they could put learning into the business plan. The precedent for this would be the apprenticeship concept that has built the powerful German economy.

In our age of rhetoric about the restoration of America, something must break the market-driven and self-destructive cycle of callous disregard for the American worker.

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