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Companies: train your own workers

If not tech, how about leather? Training in Allenjoie, France. Photo: Sebastien Bozon / AFP / Getty

The most successful training courses through the decades have been organized by companies finding smart people, then skilling them up for specific positions. But this tradition is long passé — despite a yawning worker shortage, American companies today are only rarely prepared to spend the money to train their own workers. Instead, they want fully formed workers to show up at the door.

What's going on: One person vexed by this paradox is Kim Arnett, a software developer at Expedia. Two weeks ago, Arnett posted an open letter at Linkedin to technology companies, tut-tutting them for setting up a potential future crisis by failing to create enough entry-level positions. As of now, it has 147 comments and 1,030 likes — not quite an avalanche, but the suggestion she may be right.

What Arnett said: "You see, there are NO entry level jobs ... and internships are also fading. Why? I'm not sure. I'm also not sure what's going to happen to the senior developer market pool in the coming years if no one is entering that pool due to lack of entry level positions and experience now."

  • Her suggestion: "As an organizer of a meet up that aims to help beginners and marginalized people, I ask you to back up. Start a training program, add internships and entry level positions to help fill the gap. People are here, give them a chance.
  • Edward Alden, a fellow at the Council on Foreign relations, tells me that European companies naturally train their own workers but "that hasn't permeated U.S. companies" as yet.
  • But, Alden said, some seem to be starting to grasp that they will have to take the lead on training for their own work forces.
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