Teen Dreams VS Workforce Realities

Astronaut. Teacher. Ballerina. Doctor. Singer. Few people say “I want to grow up and work in an office,” yet 15 percent of Americans have office/administrative jobs (the largest of 22 segments of the U.S. labor force, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics). The question is–how much disparity exists between the jobs we dream of and the jobs we’ll most likely get? We polled more than 400 teenagers to find out.

Teen Dreams VS Workforce Realities Infographics

Perhaps it’s no surprise that 20 percent of teens who responded said they want to be involved in arts, design, entertainment, sports, and media occupations. Jobs in those fields not only seem fun, but sports, media, and the arts are how teens spend their free time–it makes sense that they’d want to work in a field aligned with their interests. In addition to being perceived as cool jobs, positions in media, art, design, sports, etc., can be very lucrative as well.

Getting paid to do what you love–isn’t that everyone’s dream? Unfortunately, only 2 percent of jobs in the current workforce fall under this category, which means at some point, most adults have to decide to earn a living doing something more readily available and realistic.

Another popular dream job is in the healthcare field. 15 percent of respondents say they’d like a job as healthcare practitioners. Jobs like doctor, nurse, veterinarian, pharmacist, and dentist are considered noble, prestigious, high-earning occupations. Help people and get paid well? Who wouldn’t jump at that opportunity? However, the rigor, length, and incredible expense of additional schooling are some of the biggest deterrents to why only 6 percent of people who want to become a healthcare practitioner actually do.

Some categories are low on the dream-meter, perhaps because the jobs don’t seem glamorous enough, or ambitious enough. Few might say “I want to be in retail sales when I grow up,” or “I want to go to college so I can work in food service, but these types of jobs make up a combined 18 percent of the American workforce. The fact is that there’s a lot of behind-the-scenes work that goes into the convenient, fast-paced lives we take for granted. While no teens responded that they want a job in installation, maintenance, and repair occupations, the infrastructure of our daily lives would collapse without these types of occupations.

From carpenters to marketers, every industry plays an integral part in keeping the American workforce buzzing along.

A version of this was first posted on

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The January 2017 Jobs Report: What It Means for Recruiters

The Bureau of Labor Statistics just published its much anticipated January 2017 Jobs Report. While most news outlets focused on the highlights—227,000 new jobs were added in January, and unemployment in the United States is approaching its lowest rate in nine years—it’s important to look at the full report to get a better sense of how the job market looks in your industry. Doing so will give you a more nuanced sense of hiring, training, and compensation trends—and other best practices—on an industry-by-industry basis.

Here are a few ways you can use the information in the report to your advantage:

Be Open to More Training

The labor market is tightening—the pace of hiring has slowed, despite the increase in number of jobs reported in January. Most of the job gains were concentrated in the retail trade, construction, and financial industries. Small businesses, in particular, are reporting difficulty in finding quality candidates. Nearly 70 percent of HR professionals said that they faced challenges hiring qualified candidates in the current talent market, according to the “New Talent Landscape: Recruiting Difficulty and Skills Shortages,” a June 2016 research report released by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). As a result, many HR professionals are casting a wider net, hiring less experienced people and then investing the time and money to train these new hires themselves.

In fact, nearly two-thirds of small businesses reported that they are spending more time training workers than a year ago, according to a survey conducted by The Wall Street Journal and Vistage International, a San Diego executive advisory group. Conducting in-house training can be costly, but doing so provides you with the ability to ensure consistent training among a group of workers. It can also save you money in the long run by increasing productivity.

Opportunity to Increase Diversity

Is one of your goals this year to improve the diversity among your workforce? If so, you’ll benefit in more ways than one by targeting your recruitment efforts toward one of the minority groups listed in the report with higher unemployment. African American adult males, for example, had an over 7 percent seasonally adjusted unemployment rate, as compared to the 4 percent unemployment rate among white males.

Depending on your business, you may want to take advantage of hiring younger, too. The unemployment rate among 16- to 19-year-old African Americans was 26.9 percent, as compared to a 13.2 unemployment rate among white teens. African-American women had a lower unemployment rate—6.7 percent—but it was still higher than the rate of white women ages 20 and older.

Modest Salary Increases on the Rise

Wages have steadily increased in the past few months, meaning you might have to pay more to attract new hires. As Baby Boomers begin to retire and unemployment has decreased, businesses are competing for a smaller pool of workers. Another factor that may have led to the January wage increase: Minimum-wage amounts rose in 19 states.

Salary increases for new hires are still on the modest side. In fact, fewer employers in both the services and manufacturing sectors increased new-hire compensation in December, according to the SHRM Leading Indicators of National Employment report, which was released about a month before the most recent Jobs Report. Only 13 percent of respondents in both sectors said that they increased pay for new hires. For the services sector, that represented a 4.9-point decrease as compared with a year ago. The majority of businesses surveyed said that new-hire compensation remains flat. Overall, wages rose by 2.5 percent as compared to last year, below expectations of 2.7 percent, according to the January Jobs Report.

While the January 2017 Jobs Report offers a big-picture overview of current labor trends, digging deep into industry-specific data is key to ensuring that your hiring, training and compensation practices are aligned with sector-specific growth and opportunities in the coming year.

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Make Technology Compliance Sexy: Embrace The Culture

Technology compliance is a necessity. But it isn’t sexy — yet. Certainly, innovating ways to approach compliance has contributed to a greatly transformed world of work. It’s underscored the need for the power and scope (Cloud) and for agile processes and insights (talent analytics). It’s leavened a sense of mission with an edict for ethical conduct (I’m speaking generally here), and that’s certainly a trend given the trending values of a changing workforce population.  

And the topic elicits sighs among most of those not charged with its administration. It’s not sexy because it’s complicated, and it’s required. It’s like the buttoned-up older brother who insists we eat our vegetables at the picnic. HR wants to focus on talent acquisition across all the shiny platforms; to forge new paths for talent management; to help create amazing employer brands that practically vacuum eager talent our way; to futurecast. But we can’t ignore compliance. And given the profound global shift in our workforces, whether Fortune 500 or SME, it’s an even larger challenge given the need to address not just state and national, but international regulations.

But we need to love it. We need to make it sexy. How?

Make a clear part of the employer brand. As the future brightens, though not necessarily as bright as before — I’m thinking of the jobs report out Friday from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which showed that the U.S. added a modest 173,000 payroll jobs in August, and that unemployment was at 5.1 percent (down from 5.3 percent in July). Given the pervasive concern with successful recruitment, make compliance clear not only at the level of hire, but as part of candidate experience.

Dovetail it into the company culture. This is different than the employer brand: this is about what happens in the workplace — and certainly has an effect on engagement and retention. There are countless compelling arguments for this. Again, the majority of the workforce (yes, millennials) has made it clear that values , transparency and accountability are key. Compliance is part of that: a functional reflection of positive integrity and deeper ethics.

Make it functional. In its Predictions for 2015: Redesigning the Organization for a Rapidly Changing World, Deloitte reports that HR technology is now an industry in excess of $15 million, and that organizations are “scrambling” to replace their existing HR technology. Despite the incredible growth — the LMS market and talent management software markets each grew by about 24 percent, the capabilities are not improving as fast. Less that 14 percent of those surveyed stated they had made significant programs in terms of talent analytics and workforce planning. As we evolve to the next phase of HR tech, it needs to embrace all requirements, including compliance. To leave compliance out of a revamp is to have to revamp the revamp. 

Make it work for us. Leverage compliance as a structure for increasing diversity by adopting compliance software that addresses diversity and other workplace issues. Dismal statistics noone was surprised by showed that Silicon Valley has a long road ahead, and there’s a stunning lack of minorities and women in STEM pipelines. Google, for instance, reported that its tech workforce is 60 percent white and 1 percent black. Yet it’s been made abundantly clear that without reaching into these population we’ll never be able to fill the rise in STEM jobs coming up — which prevents our ability to compete in science and tech moving forward.

The legacy of HR meets Technology is that we’re endlessly bringing talent and organizations together and aiming for the best; tech and trends aside, sometimes, the marriages work; sometimes they don’t. By including compliance in the equation from the onset, we may not only increase the chance of employee engagement, we may also decrease the risk of external complications. And everyone’s happy, right? Well, maybe.

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A version of this post was first posted on Forbes on 9/5/2015