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Siemens CEO: 'Mismatch' Between U.S. Jobs Available, Skills Needed

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STRUCTURAL UNEMPLOYMENT

The United States might have millions of unemployed workers, but one company is having a hard time finding people that fit.

Eric Spiegel, U.S. regional President and CEO of German engineering conglomerate Siemens, recently told the Financial Times that much of America's employment problem isn't because of a lack of jobs, but because there are too few qualified workers.

Currently, Siemens, whose 15 divisions in industry, energy and healthcare employed around 405,000 U.S. workers last year, has around 3,200 job vacancies, and Spiegel says that filling them has been no easy task.

Even with 13.9 million Americans currently unemployed, the high unemployment rate has not given companies an endless number of candidates. In the manufacturing sector, for example, the number of those employed has gone down but the number of jobs available has risen to 230,000 today from 98,000 in 2009, the Financial Times reports.

By the same token, a recent study by the employment agency Manpower finds that 52 percent of American companies said they are experiencing difficulty finding employees qualified enough to fill mission-critical positions, compared to only 14 percent in 2010.

Statistics like these might point to unemployment being an increasingly structural problem, meaning workers don't have the skills that companies need. This April, President Obama's former Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers Christina Romer said in a speech that "structural unemployment has risen somewhat nationwide, and could rise further if we don’t reduce cyclical unemployment quickly[.]"

Likewise, the President himself recently lent his support to the NAM-Endorsed Manufacturing Skills Certification System, which would provide potential employees with the education and standardized credentials necessary to work manufacturing jobs. With job creation likely to remain a key election issue, Obama put forth the goal to train and credential 500,000 manufacturing employees in the next five years.

As for Siemens, the scarcity of qualified employees has lead it to seek new more proactive ways of finding workers.

“There’s a mismatch between the jobs that are available, at least in our portfolio, and the people that we see out there,” Spiegel told the Financial Times. "In fact, one of the things we've had to do is actually hire recruiters recently because the people aren't available coming over the web or coming in for interviews."

Watch the full interview at the Financial Times.

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