Once Again, Our Government Finds Itself Clueless

The Washington Times has reported that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has issued an "informal discussion letter" stating that businesses that require a high school diploma in a help wanted advertisement might be in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, unless they can prove that courses in high school have a direct bearing on the ability to do the job being advertised.

This is further proof that the government has absolutely no clue how businesses operate or how business owners think.  It is also proof that they believe the propaganda of the Department of Education about how well American students are doing in school.

Business owners and managers are not trying to hire entry level, completely uneducated people to sweep the floors, and who will never in their career do anything else.  Business owners are trying to hire people who are promotable to something higher and more responsible within their organizations.  Business owners are looking for potential, not the lowest common denominator.  They are definitely not looking for someone who will perform only the minimum necessary to avoid being fired. 

That might be all that government bureaucrats think that businesses should want, but any for-profit organization that approaches hiring in that manner will soon be a "started-up-for-profit-but-not-making-a-profit-any-more company."

In addition, and I say this having interviewed and hired candidates for over 30 years, the only thing that a high school diploma tells me when I'm evaluating a potential hire is that they probably (not absolutely) know how to read and write.  I'm pretty sure that would be a minimum requirement for any job, in any company, at any level. 

Many businesses make it part of their corporate culture to grow their own future managers.  They often feel that a long term employee, loyal to their company and trained in every facet of the business, is worth the cost and effort that it takes in terms of training.  Further, if businesses didn't want to nurture and groom their new hires for greater responsibilities, why would so many businesses invest millions of dollars in tuition reimbursement programs for their employees to attend college at night to improve their skills?

But even interviewing someone who already has a college degree isn't a whole lot better in terms of counting on academia to prepare a new employee to "hit the ground running."

While the applicant might have "studied" business subjects, he or she doesn't know anything about my business or about my customers, or my suppliers, and the regulations and laws under which I have to operate my organization and the way I run my business, and as such, no matter what they claim to know, or how glowing their college transcript, they are trainees.  As a trainee, they are paid a lot more than they contribute to my profitability, if they contribute anything at all.  Again, when business owners and managers hire a recent graduate, they are not hiring skill, they are hiring potential.

If companies cannot bring in people at levels lower than their "educational credentials" would appear to indicate, they won't have potential future stars that they can metaphorically "call out of the bull pen".  That means that they won't be able to bring in younger people in the future at the lower end of the ladder and see if, in an admittedly brutal Darwinian process, these new hires can survive in the real world, and thrive to the point where they might be promoted.  If they aren't promotable, then they will ultimately be replaced.  The business will suffer the cost and lost profits associated with the time and effort expended in trying to train someone who is not capable of growing. 

If the government advertised their "product" on television or radio, the voice-over at the end of the commercial would say: "Stupidity and ignorance are not just our most important products, they are our only products".  

This idea from the EEOC is just confirmation of that.

Jim Yardley is a retired financial controller for manufacturing firms, a Vietnam veteran and an independent voter.  Jim blogs at jimyardley.wordpress.com, or he can be contacted directly at james.v.yardley@gmail.com