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Pay Better Wages!

Sep 3, 2014

Help a leftist out. I want to expand my business.

I need top talent with specific skill sets (legal analysis, fast and clear writing, HTML/PHP coding, server maintenance...). How do I recruit and retain this talent?

My first impulse is to offer fat paychecks. That's how you right-wingers solve everything, right? Let the market rule? Set good wages that reflect your demand, and the labor supply will beat a path to your door, right?

I must be suffering some leftist confusion. According to Gov. Dennis Daugaard's Workforce Summit final report, good wages have little to do with solving my workforce problem or South Dakota's. If I act like an executive and read only the executive summary, I don't see the word “wages” once. I can dig down to the appendix and find that participants at all six summits around the state last spring mentioned low wages as a challenge to attracting and retaining workers, but only three of those summits mentioned raising wages among their solutions.

The fact that South Dakota has the second-lowest hourly wages in the nation apparently has nothing to do with our difficulty in filling jobs. The primary workforce solutions highlighted by the Workforce Summit final report (prepared by Accenture, an international firm that will take the state of South Dakota's consulting fee back to headquarters in Ireland, where they will figure out how not to pay American income tax on that money) suggest that the workforce problem is everyone else's fault.

According to Accenture, job seekers need to learn more about “the real potential of technical and other careers” (or, as Gov. Daugaard would put it, stop wasting time with philosophy and take up welding). Workers need to learn more about employers' expectations. Schools must develop “business-driven curricula” and focus on the “skills and competencies” that businesses need. Local governments need to develop more housing. Businesses “need support from educational institutions, communities and government to attract and retain workers.”

Businesses need support from ... government — that sounds like a call for government to meddle in the free market. (And tucked away on page 35 of the report is a subtle sales pitch for a “framework” Accenture has developed to help companies work on in-house worker development, a “framework” the purchase of which the state could subsidize, just as it subsidized the failed recruitment efforts of Manpower Inc.)

Gee, that almost sounds ... leftist. Socialist.

We could spend boo-yah bucks rejiggering our schools and subsidizing abstract frameworks and concrete houses and concocting a “common language among all workforce stakeholders focused on skills and competencies versus job titles and descriptions” (no, really, that's the kind of suggestion your tax dollars paid for) and hope that all that magic gets workers around the country to perk and shout, “Let's move to South Dakota!”

Or business owners could offer better pay.

But I guess that's just my silly, simplistic leftist thinking. Accenture and Gov. Daugaard apparently prefer their crazy, complicated leftist thinking.

Editor's Note: Cory Heidelberger is our political columnist from the left. For a conservative perspective on politics, please look for columns by Dr. Ken Blanchard on this site.

Cory Allen Heidelberger writes the Madville Times political blog. He grew up on the shores of Lake Herman. He studied math and history at SDSU and information systems at DSU, and has taught math, English, speech, and French at high schools East and West River.

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