Given the increased globalization and 24/7 business operations, can we reasonably expect to rely on etraining to address a forecasted worldwide shortage of skilled workers? To answer this question, we will examine the key supply and demand determinants of the global worker shortage and analyze the critical systematic requirements that tend to favor the use of asymmetric, interactive, e-training technologies. Recent meta-studies of distance education conclude that distance education delivery is both cost-effective and is superior to face-to-face instruction, when controlling for several important intervening variables. Further, such studies conclude that when organized, systematic student discussions are employed the benefits are substantially enhanced. Give some of these identified benefits, can Internet technologies be used to somehow enable learning/training to take place, across different cultures and languages, as opposed to traditional training/educational systems which use “live” trainers/teachers in this process? To address this proposition, we will expand the discussion of tutored video instruction (TVI) by reviewing the recent research on some alternatives, regardless of whether the students taking the course are discussing the course materials at the same time
A worldwide shortage of skilled workers has been forecasted for most of the 21st Century. The reputed causes of this shortage include demographic shifts, the failure of most developed countries to pass comprehensive immigration legislation, technological innovation, and globalization. The World Health Organization estimates that there is already a growing shortage with skilled workers worldwide, especially in developing countries. (WTO, 2006). Skilled manufacturing workers are in high demand in the U.S., especially workers that can “fix robots and other equipment in a 21st Century factory” but are not available (Tumulty, 2005). The National Association of Business Economist polled 103 corporate planners and discovered that over a third of them were experiencing difficulties hiring skilled workers, a conclusion that was in agreement with labor surveys conducted recently by the U.S. Federal Reserve System. Regional shortages of skilled workers that were identified by the Federal Reserve surveys included manufacturing workers in the Cleveland area, energy workers in the Dallas region, and financial services, nursing and construction workers by the San Francisco region (USA Today, 2005).
Even China and India, whose rapid economic growth supposedly created jobs at a rate sufficient to absorb the local unemployed, are reporting skilled worker shortages. Multinational firms have tended to regard India as a country with an abundant supply of English-speaking technicians. “Not true,” says T. V. Mohandes Pai, Insosys Technologies’ human resources director. He concludes that India has a “crippling shortage of skilled employees that threatens Indian’s economic growth.” Pai reports that his firm, India’s second largest information technology firm, is currently having difficulty finding an additional 26,000 engineers, accountants and programmers, as are other multinational firms like Citigroup, Google, and General Electric (Singh & Sharma, 2007).
After surveying 83 human resources professionals, Farrell and Grant (2005) concluded that only 10% of Chinese job candidates were suitable for filling managerial jobs in foreign firms in nine occupational areas: engineers, quantitative analysts, generalists, life science researchers, finance workers, accountants, doctors, nurses, and support staff. Further, they observed that given the global aspirations of most of the Chinese firms surveyed of the 75,000 additional leaders that these firms will need there were fewer than 5,000 that they could identify to fill those positions.
Manpower Inc., an employment services company with 4,400 offices worldwide, recently released the results of their labor survey of 52,000 employers in 27 countries, reporting that over 40% of those employers were experiencing difficulties finding skilled workers. The 10 most difficult jobs to fill, their survey concludes, are sales representatives, skilled manual trade workers, technicians, engineers, accounting and finance staff workers, laborers, production workers, drivers, executives, and machinists (Manpower Inc., 2007).