Tuesday, October 23, 2018

How To Solve A Shortage

The trucking industry in this country has been experiencing a shortage of drivers. In fact, the shortage has reached historic levels, with the industry down almost 300,000 drivers compared to just three years ago.

Several factors were involved. Regulations how drivers count their hours on duty, with the effect that a single driver can now log fewer actual driving hours. The work is hard and getting harder. The driver pool is aging out. And the pay isn't that great, and as the economy began to rally, other lines of work began to look more attractive.

J. B. Hunt Transport Services, the largest US trucking company, hit on a clever solution.  

They raised pay. In fact, they raised it by 10%.

If you want to express the idea more broadly, we can say that they dramatically improved the working conditions for their job. And it seems to be working.

It's amazing, really. Despite their professed love for the Free Market and the wisdom of the invisible hand, so many leaders seem baffled by "shortages" in their field. And that includes teaching.

We keep hearing about a teacher shortage in this country. There is no teacher shortage.

Say it with me-- There. Is. No. Teacher. Shortage.

There is a shortage of states and districts willing to make it worth someone's while to take a teaching job. There's a shortage of states and districts willing to improve the conditions of the job enough to make that job attractive to people. There's a shortage of pay, a shortage of respect, a shortage of support. But there is no teacher shortage, just as there was no actual truck driver shortage. The employers didn't have to wait for an entire generation of fresh drivers to be born and to grow up; they just had to make the job attractive enough to recruit the people that were already there.

It's not rocket science, and people like the Broad-trained ed leaders, who have been brought up on the idea of business solutions to education problems-- it ought to be obvious to them.

If I can't get someone to sell me a Porsche for $1.98, that does not mean there is an automobile shortage. I am not somehow entitled to a cheap car, and employers are not entitled to cheap labor. Figure it out, O wise captains of industry and thought leaders of education.

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