What You Can Do For Us

The lack of young professionals that Thomas describes in his recent post is currently a widely discussed topic. When looking for solutions the answer seems to be the simplification of highly qualified worker’s immigration. Other possibly helpful acts discussed by the federal government right now are the acceptance of degrees made abroad or using the potential of unemployed people better by qualifying them. Most propositions are about what can be done to help companies cope with the lack of young professionals. But who asks what companies themselves can do to cope with it? What can they do for us?

First of all I was confused: do we already have a lack of young professionals or is it a problem of the future? Here opinions diverge. Regarding to Karl Brenke, labor market researcher at the DIW, we don’t have a lack of young professionals yet and it won’t be as big a problem as discussed right now in the future. He argues that by requiring the simplification of highly qualified worker’s immigration employer associations are trying to create a bigger demand on the employee-side so they can keep the salaries down. Axel Plünnecke and Oliver Koppel, labor market experts at the IW, state the opposite. Regarding to their findings, a lack of young professionals already exists in some industries, e.g. engineering, and will be intensified by the demographic change. So there’s no clarification but rather more confusion here…

But regardless of whether or not we already have the lack of young professionals, the question to me is: What can companies do for the young professionals? Well, they can always increase the salaries…but apart from money, what else is there? When reading job advertisements one can feel poorly qualified, even though he or she really is highly qualified. Companies often publish job ads where one’s self-esteem lowers immediately. Regarding to an article on welt.de they have almost unaccomplishable expectations towards applicants…many years of experience in work, leading teams, speak six languages fluently and so on. Which graduate or young professional should be able to fulfill that? Maybe companies have to dismiss their perfectionism and say hello to the real world? And what happened to training on-the-job? Doesn’t it exist anymore?

I read an interesting article in Spiegel magazine from November 2010 called “The Pairing Trap” about the search for the perfect relationship or partner. The author comes to the conclusion that while searching for the perfect fit most people don’t find what they’re looking for because for once their expectations are unrealistic and secondly no matter how good someone is, they always hope for someone who is perfect. To me the behavior of companies looking for expensive highly qualified employees shows some striking parallels to the partnership search: They don’t want to invest in the applicants or take a chance; they rather wait for someone perfect who may never come along.

9 Responses to “What You Can Do For Us”
  1. thob84 says:

    Very nice and interesting post Katrin! You gave the topic much insight. You also mentioned a point that is crucial: Companies “complain” about the lack of young proftessionals but still keep salaries down!

    According to the study of Prognos AG and Wirtschaftswoche the most needed jobs in the future are teachers, nurses and so on. These jobs are often underpaid and therefore it is no surprise that the companies lack professional staff in this area. How do they want to legitimate the must of high qualifications by paying low wadges?

  2. thob84 says:

    Very nice Ending! I had to read it twice but now I got your point and I agree 🙂

  3. Izzy says:

    A good post Katrin, I think the comparison of candidate search and partnership is to the point.

    However, I have a different impression in reality. Isn’t it that most companies nowadays turn to not saying anything specific about the requirements of the suitable candidate? At least I feel that way, look at job advertisements of all the big companies in our field: They all seem to want the same. And this “same” is rather blurry to me.

    Roland Berger: “Good results in studies, work experience through internships and abroad, English skills, creativity, capacity for teamwork and strong communication skills.”
    Or take Audi (According to WiWo rated as favorite employer in Germany, 2010): “Good results in studies, practical experience (2 months), experience abroad, English skills, customer-oriented, capacity for teamwork, business acumen”.
    Whether Siemens , Porsche or Adidas , whether marketing, HR or finance, I’ve got the impression all we need to prepare for is team work, a strong personality (whatever that is!) and talking (communication). However, this focus on “soft skills” doesn’t seem advantageous to me. How can a company measure that?

    Assuredly, the critical path is the job interview, how you present yourself and the subjective impression you make on the HR person. I don’t think some applicants are rejected because they are less suitable than others on paper, but for reasons unknown. As Katrin said: There could be someone better out there…

    Thanks Katrin for this controversial topic. Maybe, for your next post you want to try to focus on just one aspect instead of a logical reasoning and support your arguments with specific working examples from different sources. Could be quite nice, as well.

  4. martinjaja says:

    Really interesting composition of arguments which ended up in a lively debate afterwards. It is obviously an elaborate topic to discuss which in fact is really important for most of us.

    @ Katrin: I really like your link between the search for a partner and the search for suitable employees. I totally agree with you on the point that the expectations are really high. But why not?? All the companies we have in mind when talking about that topic are the top-firms in their business who are often global player. Of course they just want the best people. Is there anything wrong with it?

    @ Isa: Of course are job advertisement more or less blurry as you say due to legal constraints. The companies you have mentioned are top in their business area and they just want to have the best employee for the the position. They are getting thousands of application for their posts and the can randomly pick someone, even if he or she just looks better on the papers.

    Maybe, the really just need to get clever and smart people with outstanding soft skills. The rest can be thought on the job!

  5. Mary says:

    Aaaaw, what a lovely way to put it, Katrin! I love your conclusion! I am totally with you – I myself am often afraid to apply to a certain job after reading the job advertisement. I mean, what exactly are “outstanding soft skills”?
    On the other hand, you don’t pay your partner to be in a relationsship, do you? Matin might be right – having thousands of job applicants for one position they have to ask for the unachievable. Maybe just to preselect people who have the balls to play that game. But still, I also don’t understand the issue about the lack of skilled labour. I took up this topic in my latest post, Young Professionals Caught in Internships – We need immigrants! Take a look!

Check out what others are saying...
  1. […] already discussed in one of my recent posts, there is divergence about whether we already have a lack of young professionals or not, i.e. […]

  2. […] young people – due to the shortage of skilled labour, which Katrin also talks about in her Post What they can do for us. I also read about the DWI study so I researched a bit further – unbelivable how many […]

  3. […] Professionals Caught in Internships – We need Immigrants! I picked up a discussion by Katrin (What You Can Do For Us) and Thomas (Germany and its ‘Lack of Young Professionals’ – Status quo). For the first time […]

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