Florida Ports Added 200,000 Jobs Since 2012

By December 13, 2016 1:56 pm ET

Florida Ports Added 200,000 Jobs Since 2012

TAMPA, FL — Gov. Rick Scott on Tuesday announced that Florida’s 15 seaports have added 200,000 new jobs across the state since 2012.

“Our 15 world-class seaports are not only a major economic engine for job creation in Florida, but they also help strengthen Florida’s position as the gateway to Latin America,” said Scott, speaking at Port Tampa Bay. “We are competing in a global economy, but no other state can match the combination of Florida’s transportation infrastructure, business-friendly environment and location.”

Scott’s announcement was based on a new report released Tuesday by the Florida Ports Council that also found:

  • The number of new jobs at Florida ports increased by more than 25 percent over the time period from 700,000 to almost 900,000.
  • Florida ports account for $117.6 billion in economic activity, up 15 percent from $101.9 billion.
  • Related state and local tax revenue increased to $4.3 billion from $2.4 billion.
  • Personal income increased 30 percent to $40 billion from $30.3 billion.

Scott’s announcement followed a report last week in the Tampa Bay Times that said while Florida added the third most private-sector jobs of any state in the country during November, the number of new jobs in the state had slowed from the height of the economic recovery based on data collected by payroll processor ADP with Moody’s Analytics.

With respect to the port system, state officials said that Florida has invested more than $1 billion since 2011 to increase capacity and to position the state to better compete with other ports in the United States and expand Florida’s role as a global hub for trade.

Officials said that an additional $3.7 billion in state, local and private funding is planned for further port capital improvement projects over the next five years.

Such projects typically produce a 7-1 return in state and local tax revenue, according to state officials.

Doug Wheeler, Florida Ports Council president and CEO described the added jobs as immediate and long-term job gains.

“The state of Florida’s seaports is strong, and our role in international trade as the gateway to the Americas continues to grow stronger,” he said.

Port Tampa Bay President and CEO Paul Anderson, said that the jobs are the result of the infrastructure improvements.

“Now that Florida ports have the infrastructure to accommodate significantly larger vessels carrying more cargo and cruise passengers, there is a growing need for workers resulting in a recent increase of nearly 200,000 jobs,” said Anderson, who is also chairman of the Florida Ports Council.

How To Improve Communication With Your Field Workers

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There is plenty of talk about improving corporate communications, but too often field workers are ignored or get the short end of the stick. Whether it’s the retail, hospitality, or transportation industries, it is essential to have effective communication with your field workers to keep morale up, reduce training costs, and decrease employee turnover. In this post we’ll show you how you can make sure you’re field employees never feel out of the loop.

1. Increase Transparency

The main problem with field worker communication is the communication gap between workers and white collar management. Field workers want to be keep informed just like white collar workers, not just ply their trade out in the field. By keeping your field workers up to date with the latest company developments, policy changes, and visions for the future, they’ll feel more involved and buy-in to the projects and services you are trying to carry out in your company.

2. Gather feedback

Just like it’s hard for field workers to know what’s going on at headquarters, how can management improve the lives of their field workers if they don’t know what’s happening in the field? Quarterly town hall meetings, webinars, and enterprise messaging apps give field workers the opportunity to make their voice heard and give management valuable insights into how to engage their field employees. If you are concerned with getting honest feedback consider using anonymous qualitative surveys to get responses you otherwise wouldn’t get from you field workers.

3. Regularly meet with your people

Maybe the biggest mistake management makes is not meeting face to face with their field workers often enough. For example, Leighton Contractors, a major Australian construction company, was able to turn their dismally rated internal communications around in part by having management frequently meet with their field workers. For example, they started having Safety Roadshows, where executive management would go out to work sites and discuss safety issues with workers. By engaging their workers they were able to improve communications to the point that over 72 percent of workers now rate their internal communications as ‘good’ or ‘very good’.

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The value of improving communications doesn’t only improve the lives of your most important kind of capital — your employees — but it also has second order effects on your bottom line. For companies like Leighton Contractors, higher levels of employee engagement can result in a 50 percent decrease in accidents. What’s more, companies with high levels of employee engagement can see an average of 19.2 percent improvement in operating costs.

As Nitin Thakur, the head of communications at Max India Ltd., a Indian conglomerate that focuses on service businesses, says:

“If you use event and engagement based tools, then the blue-collar workers are more responsive. From my experience, creating a sense of involvement amongst the blue-collar employees can help register the message far better. They feel valued and wanted, which helps break the class-divide that invariably develops amongst the white collar and field work force.”

Where The Jobs Are: The New Blue-Collar

By MaryJo Webster, USA TODAY

5 Things Every American Needs to Know About the Future of Work

By Art Bilger

As you watch the third and final presidential debateWednesday, don’t expect either candidate to address the glaring realities our country faces when it comes to the future of employment.

If the previous two debates are any indication, they will fail yet again to tackle this vital issue in a meaningful way.

But it’s crucially important, and here’s why.

The world of work is changing–faster than we ever could have predicted–and very little is being done to prepare for it. In fact, most Americans are woefully unprepared for the rapidly accelerating changes already underway. If we act now, we can still greatly reduce the negative impact that many American families are poised to face.

According to a recent Oxford University study, as many as 47% of all jobs are likely to be eliminated by technology within the next 20 years. That’s nearly half of all workers out of a job. Add globalization, longevity in the workforce, and the inability of our education system to keep pace, and the problem is only made worse.

As a country, we have the tools to overcome this challenge. Now is the time to rapidly accelerate our response. To help jumpstart the conversation America so desperately needs, this summer we launched WorkingNation, a national not-for-profit campaign to educate the American public about the looming unemployment crisis in this country and to start a widespread movement to meet and overcome this unprecedented challenge.

Our organization’s efforts begin with innovative storytelling: WorkingNation has partnered with Academy Award-winning directors and producers to create a wide range of compelling programming that explains the high stakes of Structural Unemployment and investigates potential solutions to the problem. At the top of this article you’ll find the premier of A Story of Yesterday & Today,about the fall of Eastman Kodak and its impact on Rochester, N.Y. by Barbara Kopple, a two-time Academy Award winning filmmaker.

Stay tuned to Fortune for more from the “Jobs 2.0” series in the days ahead.

In the meantime, here are five facts about the future of work that every American should know.

The looming threat of mass Structural Unemployment is everyone’s problem: Nearly half of the country could be affected directly and the rest could suffer from the consequences of a devastated U.S. economy. Many people fail to realize that it won’t just be factory workers and unskilled laborers who lose their jobs. Technology is eliminating highly skilled positions in white-collar industries as well.

The employability gap is a fancy term for a simple concept: There’s a gap between the skills employers need from their workers, both now and in the future, and the skills Americans actually have. The equation is not pretty. Our current education system hasn’t kept up with the rapidly changing skills needed as technology plays a larger role in jobs of all kinds.

Some corporations, not-for-profit organizations, and other stakeholders are already coming up with solutions to counteract the skills gap:Organizations like Year Up, Operation Hope, AmeriCorps, and Service Year Alliance are forging a path forward. They’re providing workers in need with skills development, retraining programs, college and vocational credits, internships, and other forms of support. We must to continue to scale these types of solutions and connect more people to these types of programs in order to keep America working.

Progress will be made locally: Overcoming the employability gap will require the active participation of local employers, non-profits, local government leaders and educational organizations on a grassroots level. Thankfully, many are already raising their hand to do their part.

All Americans can be part of the solution: We face a major challenge that will require a widespread movement. It begins with a dialogue, spreading awareness, and getting individuals to consider their own situation in the context of a rapidly changing world of work.

So ask yourself: “Am I Future-Proof?” That means taking an honest assessment of one’s own employment, education and skills. It means understanding your current and future employability and beginning to plan for the challenges ahead.

Freelance Workers a Growing Segment of California Economy

Informal work appears to be a growing segment of the economy

A short gig doing security for the True Blood television show. A stint driving for a rental car company. A week as a customer service representative at a retail store.

This is how Delvontaie Antwine, 34, makes do in California’s economic recovery — earning a few scattered paychecks a month from odd temp jobs while living with relatives in Silver Lake.

Each week, he goes to a career center, where recently he was looking into positions transporting patients for Kaiser Permanente.

“I just need something consistent; otherwise, I’m like a puppy chasing its tail,” he said. “I’m at the bottom of the totem pole right now.”

It’s a purgatory sometimes called the gray economy. Although the official state unemployment rate dropped to 7.4% in June, 16.2% of Californians — or about 6.2 million — were either jobless, too discouraged to seek work, working less than they’d like or in off-the-books jobs.

That’s the highest rate in the country, tied with Nevada. The rate is higher, at 17.8%, in Los Angeles County, where nearly 2 million people aren’t fully employed.

It’s hard to track the growth of the gray economy because so many employers hide workers for tax purposes. Experts generally agree, however, that the ranks of the underemployed swelled during the recession — more than in past downturns — and have remained substantial in an unsteady recovery.

“This segment of the labor market is a barometer for the economy as a whole,” said Nik Theodore, an urban planning professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago. “As employment insecurity spreads across the economy, more and more workers are being forced to turn to the street, to odd jobs, to becoming on-call workers. The question is whether this is a cyclical change, a blip or a signal of something much more fundamental.”

Those on the fringes of the official economy include farmworkers and nannies, even finance professionals and adjunct professors. They’re freelancers, day laborers, off-the-books vendors and all-cash contractors.

For some, informal work is a welcome change of pace from rigid corporate schedules. And some experts see an economic future that relies far more on self-employed workers.

Often, though, such workers are toiling without job security, benefits or career development opportunities.

“It’s pretty dismal,” said Economic Roundtable researcher Yvonne Yen Liu. “It leads to high rates of poverty and income inequality, and it doesn’t bode well for our ability to get back on our feet and be a prosperous region.”

Some of California’s larger industries, such as manufacturing and agriculture, have historically relied on contract workers. Now, contract workers are also showing up on public works construction projects or making delivery runs for retailers out of Inland Empire warehouses.

In San Francisco and Los Angeles, where the wealthiest residents are recovering fastest from the downturn, demand is surging for pay-as-you-go services such as housekeeping, physical training and massages.

Meanwhile, larger companies are still shy about hiring back the full-time workers they spent the recession replacing with automation and outsourcing. Healthcare costs are rising. Employers are downsizing their office space to ease the burden of rising rents.

A contingent workforce allows employers to be more financially flexible. They can invest less on training and issue a paycheck only when there’s demand for labor.

But being a shadow worker is risky. It’s a demographic that’s always in flux, constantly mobile, often working multiple jobs at once.

The chronically underemployed are at risk for low self-esteem and rising alcohol use and depression, according to the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues.

Informal workers also tend to be underpaid. They have no benefits — sick pay, employer-funded health insurance or retirement accounts. They’re not protected by minimum-wage laws.

In 2011, employers using off-the-books workers cost California $17 billion in revenue by not paying into state and federal social insurance programs, according to estimates from the Economic Roundtable.

In July, Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation to expedite hearings for employees hurt while laboring without workers’ compensation insurance. Illegally uninsured employers use their lower costs to undercut rivals’ bids, while causing insurance premiums for businesses across the board to rise, experts said.

“Legitimate businesses are having difficulty staying in business because everybody wants to pay as low an amount as possible,” said Carole D’Elia, executive director of independent state oversight agency the Little Hoover Commission, which is currently studying the underground economy.

Jacob Sundstrom, 22, graduated from college last year with good grades and aspirations of becoming a sportswriter. But he couldn’t find a full-time position and now lives with his parents in Fontana.

He freelances online articles and graphics for advertising and websites. Occasionally, he’ll take a one-off odd job, helping with data entry, calculating baseball statistics, even running the scoreboard at a minor league game.

He’s up early most mornings, spending several hours writing cover letters.

“The situation is awful — I have student loans, $2,000 in credit card debt and the hope that someday it will get better,” he said. “You get up every day and keep doing it and just hope that working hard enough will be worth something again.”

The number of day laborers remains high in California, and they’re not just looking for construction gigs, Theodore, the Illinois professor, said. Former factory workers, service providers, restaurant employees — and more American-born workers than ever — are gathering at unregulated hiring sites to look for work, he said.

Freelance and piecemeal jobs are increasing, exacerbating already high turnover rates. Workers who float from position to position often feel less loyalty to companies, less incentive to be productive and less inclination to invest in training, economists said.

They’re not tied to regular commuting patterns and are less likely to buy property. They delay marriages and births. They increasingly live in group housing and work in collective spaces, said Steve King, a partner at Emergent Research, which studies small businesses.

Apps and websites that make it easier for contractors to find and be paid for piecemeal work — such as Taskrabbit, PayPal and Square — are proliferating.

“The social changes are fascinating and deep across our society,” King said.

Nationwide, more than half of college graduates are over-educated for their jobs, according to the Center for College Affordability and Productivity. In California — which has an above-average number of graduates — the percentage is probably higher.

But some workers in California and elsewhere aren’t so sorry to give up the traditional 9-to-5 working life. Breaking away from a rigid schedule and a single employer offers a measure of freedom that appeals to their sense of entrepreneurship.

Many are driving for ride-sharing services such as Lyft, renting out their homes to travelers on AirBNB or selling items on mobile marketplaces such as Etsy. A state law went into effect last year that allowed certain foods to be made in private homes and sold to the public.

The number of so-called non-employers — businesses with no employees, largely made up of people working for themselves — slipped at the beginning of the recession. But it has soared since, rising more than 10% between 2006 and 2012 to 2.9 million in the state, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

The Freelancers Union, a national nonprofit that provides health insurance to its members, said its ranks have increased from 46,700 in 2007 to more than 240,000 this year.

Half of the U.S. workforce could be freelance by the end of the decade, the organization predicts.

“People made a good trade-off 50 years ago — working 40 hours a week to have a home, send their kids to college and retire — but now they’re asking why they should have a full-time job if there’s no job security or benefits,” said Sara Horowitz, the group’s founder and executive director. “Freelancers are really redefining work, creating a new paradigm.”

Actually, There Are Still Good Blue-Collar Jobs

Tom Berryman knows how to put young people in some pretty sweet blue-collar jobs. Graduates of the two-year auto-mechanics’ training courses he oversees at Lawson State Community College’s campus in Bessemer, Alabama, all get work at auto dealerships, most with starting salaries in the high-40s. If they’re lucky enough to end up at a Toyota dealership, they make over $60,000. That’s in a state with a median household income of $44,765.

“My guys are much more successful than a lot of four-year students after spending $14,000 for a two-year degree,” Berryman told me. Still, getting enough students to sign up can be a struggle. “If you can get me in front of the parents, I can get the kid here. But if the kid has to go home and explain it to the parents — good luck!”

This was a recurrent theme during my visit to Alabama a few weeks ago. It was recurrent in large part because I happened to be talking to people involved with vocational education in the state. Still, it seemed telling. I met a bunch of people whose job it is to train workers for blue-collar occupations. And one of their biggest challenges is persuading enough young people (and their parents) that pursuing such work is a good idea. “It goes back to World War II,” said Jeff Lynn, the new head of workforce development for the state’s community college system. “Everybody wants their kid to get a four-year degree and become a nuclear physicist.”

It isn’t hard to see where the parents are coming from. This is from a recent report on “America’s Divided Recovery” by Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce:

SOURCE: GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY CENTER ON EDUCATION AND THE WORKFORCE

College graduates had an OK recession. Those with only high school degrees or less had a terrible one. Those with the associates degrees awarded by community colleges fell somewhere in between. The lesson would seem to be that getting at least a bachelor’s degree is a really, really good idea.

Still, there is a kind of blue-collar work that (1) doesn’t require a bachelor’s degree, (2) pays reasonably well and (3) shows no signs of going away. That would be skilled technical work, often focused on maintaining or fixing machinery. Here’s how auto mechanics and three other skilled blue-collar jobs categories have fared since 1997.

The 2015 average annual wage in these job categories was:

The average annual wage for all occupations was $48,320.

By comparison, software developers made an average of more than $100,000 a year, and their numbers grew from 496,630 in 1999 to 1.1 million in 2015. But software development and other tech jobs make for an interesting comparison, given that it appears to be possible to train people for them without going through the time and expense of a four-year college education. The online learning startup Udacity, for example, unveiled an initiative this week to line up recipients of its “nanodegrees” with tech internships.

Meanwhile, old-line blue-collar jobs have been changing, too. At Lawson State, which offers training for electricians, plumbers, welders and HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) technicians as well as auto mechanics, “the programs have shifted to much more high-end technological skills,” said longtime president Perry Ward. I visited a classroom for manufacturing workers there that was focused entirely on robot programming and maintenance.

Employment isn’t exploding in any of these fields. But it is growing in most of them, and lots of baby boomer plumbers, electricians and the like are nearing retirement age. Succeeding at these jobs takes skill, training and commitment. It just doesn’t require a four-year college degree.

It’s Not Just About the Paycheck. Ask Workers.

She cried when she heard she’d soon be eligible for overtime. They weren’t tears of joy.

She’s a producer for a public radio station who asked that I not use her name. She loves her job but struggles to stretch her “paltry” paycheck to cover rent and other living expenses. She’s exactly the kind of dedicated white-collar worker the Barack Obama administration sought to help with a sweeping new overtime regulation. In May, the Labor Department declared that, as of Dec. 1, most salaried workers earning less than $47,476 a year, or $913 a week, would have to be paid time and a half for anything more than 40 hours a week. (A few occupations, such as teaching and law, are excluded.) The rule more than doubled the existing salary threshold.

Last Tuesday, however, a federal judge in Texas issued a preliminary injunction against the new rule. The final decision still awaits, but U.S. District Judge Amos L. Mazzant III, an Obama appointee, looks likely to agree with the states and business groups suing to block the increase. His ruling suggested that the new standard violates the underlying law by allowing pay alone to trump job responsibilities in deciding who’s exempt from overtime rules. “If Congress intended the salary requirement to supplant the duties test,” he wrote, “then Congress, and not the Department, should make that change.”

The last-minute hold, which came right before a long holiday weekend, leaves employers wondering what to do now. The Obama administration can appeal the injunction, but the Republican Congress and incoming Donald Trump administration have several ways to block the mandate. One is a bill sponsored by U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander that would raise the salary level gradually until it reaches $913 a week in 2020. The measure would also require a study of the first-year impact to determine whether nonprofit organizations and governments should be exempt from future increases.

Regardless of the eventual outcome, the mandate illustrates an all-too-common blindness to the diversity and nuances of employment arrangements. Not every workplace is, or aspires to be, the civil service. Not every worker longs to be on an assembly line. And not everybody is working entirely for money. One size does not fit all.

Just as Trump imagines he can give industrial workers job security by canceling trade agreements, the Obama administration thought it could give managers more money or shorter hours by decree. The overtime rule assumes that employers have a big pot of money somewhere that they’re keeping for themselves instead of paying their hard-working staffs. It also assumes that rigid time-keeping that forces people to work 9 to 5 is a good thing. Announcing the new rule, Vice President Joe Biden called it part of “the basic middle-class bargain that used to exist.” Nostalgia for the Organization Man is a bipartisan affair.

For the radio producer, however, clocking hours just means more paperwork. The new setup also comes with a biweekly, rather than monthly, paycheck, disrupting her household cash flow. (That financial stress had a lot to do with the tears.) And the rigid structure simply doesn’t match the nature of her job: In journalism, things come up and are last-minute and time-consuming, she wrote in a text message. If she has to stay late and that time isn’t approved, who takes that hit — a colleague who isn’t considered hourly? To her, it doesn’t feel fair or equitable. She’d rather simply have a higher salary, even if it isn’t all the way up to the Labor Department’s magic number.

Supporters pooh-pooh such objections. “It’s not workplace flexibility employers seek, but the ability to continue to exploit low- and moderate-salaried workers,” opined the Los Angeles Times in response to the injunction. In businesses with great market power, there may actually be a pot of money somewhere, if only in customers’ willingness to pay higher prices. But companies facing stiff competition have no such luxury. If they jack up prices, customers will go elsewhere, which is why restaurants and retailers have objected so strenuously to the mandate.

The overtime rule has particularly roiled nonprofit organizations like the producer’s public radio station. “Cutbacks in essential services are predicted by the Salvation Army, youth services providers, home health care services, and blood centers throughout the country,” saidU.S. Senator Susan Collins, speaking in support of fellow Republican Alexander’s bill. Nonprofits stretch their payroll dollars by attracting people who are willing to take smaller salaries because they believe in the cause and draw personal satisfaction from the work.

Enthusiastic young graduates put in 12-hour days visiting high schools and reading applications for their colleges’ admissions offices. Museum development assistants schmooze donors at opening night receptions. Biology postdocs monitor experiments at all hours. At the YMCA in Greenville, South Carolina, employees build floats in their spare time so children in a special-needs program can be in the local Christmas parade. “They have a passion for that, they love to do that and want to be a part of that, but they may not be able to now, because that would mean paying them overtime,” says Scot Baddley, the Y’s president and CEO. (Disclosure: My sister-in-law works for the Y.)

Putting such employees on a time clock is not just a burden. It can seem like an insult. Scott M. Fitzgerald, the director of human resources at Otterbein University, told the Chronicle of Higher Education that he’d had staffers at a previous institution cry in his office when told of the change. They saw the shift to hourly pay as a demotion. At the Y, says Baddley, the emotional response has been “intense.” For professionals who’d never before punched a clock, “it was upsetting.”

Or take church employees. You don’t have to be a pastor to see your job as a religious vocation. “For those who work in professional staff positions within congregations, it certainly is viewed as their employment. But in the church, it’s viewed as so much more. It is a ministry,” says Dorothy “d’Rue” Massey Hazel, who advises congregations on human-resources issues as the canon for congregational development and administration for the Episcopal Diocese of Upper South Carolina. Although she knows firsthand how demanding and low-paid such jobs can be, she worries about the psychological effects of punching a clock. “It’s going to shift the culture to such a point that people are going to feel like it’s no longer a ministry,” she says.

Because so many church employees are also congregants, drawing a line between work hours and volunteer time can get especially tricky. Is visiting a church member in the hospital work? How about typing the newsletter? Organizing a food drive? “Now people are having to stop and think: Before I say yes to this volunteer opportunity, I’ve got to think back to the boundaries of my job description,” says Hazel. To make sure everyone is available on Sundays, churches have begun putting formerly salaried workers on weekly schedules that start that day so that they won’t hit the 40-hour limit too soon. What happens on Good Friday remains to be seen.

Job Interviews Are Useless

Employers, like most people, tend to trust their intuitions. But when employers decide whom to hire, they trust those intuitions far more than they should.

Suppose that you are considering two candidates for a job in sales, Candidate A and Candidate B, and have interviewed both. You and your colleagues were far more impressed with Candidate A, who was dynamic, engaging, and immensely likable — a natural, especially for sales. By contrast, Candidate B was a bit awkward and reserved, and so seemed to be an inferior “fit.”

One of your colleagues points out that both candidates have taken an aptitude test that relates to the job; their personnel files also contain their scores on a general intelligence test. On both tests, Candidate A was just OK; Candidate B performed superbly.

Which applicant will you choose? If you are like a lot of people, the answer is still Candidate A. After all, you met both in person, and part of your job is to be able to assess people. Maybe Candidate B tests well, but Candidate A knocked your socks off.

A lot of evidence suggests that in cases of this kind, employers will stubbornly trust their intuitions — and are badly mistaken to do so. Specific aptitude tests turn out to be highly predictive of performance in sales, and general intelligence tests are almost as good. Interviews are far less useful at telling you who will succeed.

What’s true for sales positions is also true more generally. Unstructured interviews have been found to have surprisingly little value in a variety of areas. For medical school interviews, for example, they appear to have no predictive power at all: in terms of academic or clinical performance, those accepted on the basis of interviews do no better than those who are rejected. In law schools, my own experience is that faculties emphasize how aspiring law professors do in one-on-one interviews — which usually provide no information at all about how they will do as teachers or researchers.

In the abstract, most people in human resources are fully aware that objective measures are helpful. Yet the overwhelming majority of people in these positions believe that executives “can learn more from an informal discussion with job candidates” and that it is possible to “read between the lines” to see whether a candidate would do well in the job. In general, that’s wrong.

In fact, some evidence suggests that interviews are far worse than wasteful: By drawing employers’ attention to irrelevant information, they can produce inferior decisions. For example, people make better predictions about student performance if they are given access to objective background information, such as grades and test scores — and prevented from conducting interviews entirely. (In some fields, of course, specific aptitude tests don’t exist, but general intelligence scores are often available. And if candidates have a previous track record, it makes sense to rely on it.)

So why do employers, managers and administrators continue to give so much weight to interviews? The simple answer is that people trust what they see and hear, and rely on their own feelings even when they shouldn’t. But as Yale University management professor Jason Dana and his collaborators have shown, there’s more to it than that. Interviewers actively fool themselves, finding ways to learn from interviews even if there’s actually nothing there to learn from.

Dana’s central finding is that interviewers work very hard to make sense of whatever interviewees end up saying. If you are conducting an interview, you will quickly form an initial impression of the candidate, and you will be inclined to assess his or her answers — whatever they are — in a way that fits with that initial impression.

To confirm that point, Dana instructed interviewees to give literally random answers to questions — answers that had nothing at all to do with their natural response. Even then, interviewers said in post-interview surveys that they received valuable information.

Dana’s explanation was that interviewers had made sense of the answers they got by weaving those answers into a coherent (and to some degree fabricated) narrative about candidates. In other words, interviewers, thinking that they are good judges of people, ended up confident about the usefulness of the interviews even when the responses were deliberately worthless.

There’s a related problem with interviews: They can give effect to biases, conscious or unconscious. If interviewers are prejudiced against women or Hispanics, for example, a face-to-face interview will predictably result in discrimination. Reliance on tests, or on actual or past performance, can promote equality.

For business, government, and education, the lesson is clear: People ought to be relying far more on objective information and far less on interviews. They might even want to think about scaling back or canceling interviews altogether. They’ll save a lot of time — and make better decisions.

How American Manufacturers Are Working to Close the ‘Skills Gap’

By Jay Timmons

American manufacturers are leading an innovation revolution, transforming the products we make and how we make them. Boasting the globe’s most productive workforce, abundant energy and unparalleled technical capabilities, our country is poised to advance the promise of manufacturing in America. Companies are creating jobs in the United States, and foreign enterprises are investing at record levels. The manufacturing economy is $2 trillion strong and supports about one in six American jobs.

The entire world wants the products of manufacturing in the United States, from internet-connected electronics to lifesaving pharmaceuticals. The only missing piece—the next generation of skilled workers who will take up the mantle of manufacturing and transform the future.

Over the next decade, 2 million manufacturing jobs will go unfilled. Even as our nation strives to get people back to work, a lack of trained workers—often those with trade and technical skills—leaves most manufacturing companies scrambling for talent.

This “skills gap” is a drag on the economy. A shortage of trained employees can slow the growth of our businesses and therefore our economy.

Opportunity Lost

America is failing our youth if we do not equip them with the skills required for innovative manufacturing. Manufacturing careers pay about $15,000 more than the rest of the private sector, and manufacturing can provide job security and upward mobility like no other industry.

This is good news for working families, at a time when some have lost faith in the American dream, and are questioning our very system of free enterprise.

But we should not give up; we should not lose hope. Strategic investment in education and training will carry us toward our goal.

The United States can empower individuals to seize a brighter future in manufacturing by:

  • Overcoming industry stereotypes that prevent many people from viewing manufacturing as an attractive career option;
  • Enhancing education in the STEM fields—science, technology, engineering and math;
  • Establishing apprenticeships and on-the-job training to allow employees to earn a paycheck while they grow their skills; and
  • Streamlining credentialing programs and ensuring that real-life experience counts.

Manufacturers are engaged on all fronts—to be the solution. We’re partnering with educators and community leaders on training initiatives. We’re promoting annually Manufacturing Day, when manufacturers open their doors to students. We’re working with government officials to devise policy solutions—and to bring the country together after a divisive presidential election. (In the video at the top of this article—part three of WorkingNation’s series FutureWork—Oscar-winning director Barbara Kopple looks at the work of one of the world’s leading auto manufacturers to recreate secondary schooling in Georgetown, Kentucky, from the ground up with a goal of creating the perfect employees for their specialized needs.)

Now we need America’s help. We must work together to remain true to our nation’s heritage of striving toward opportunity for all.

© 2017 Work Today Inc.