Talent Crunch?

Date PublishedNovember 20, 2014
CompanyPlains Fabrication
Article AuthorTom McCaffery
Article TypeNovember 2014 Issue
CategoryArticles, Business
Tags, , , ,
HUB SEARCHPlainsFabrication
PULSE Interactive

Talent Crunch?

How many business owners do you know with an MBA? How many businesses are started by people who have a degree rather than an idea?

toolsI often feel like I am the last of a generation. I feel like I was the last person to sneak under the radar and get lucky enough to learn from a craftsman rather than a university. When I became General Manager of a company then called Regent Air Parts, I was 23 years old. I don’t say that to be boastful and I have no issue admitting that I had no idea what I was doing. I was willing to work as hard as I could; I was willing to do whatever I had to do; and I had a business owner that saw something in me. It took me at least 2 years to get competent, and it took me 2 more before I could truly run the business without training wheels. Quite frankly that is unheard of in today’s business world and that was less than 20 years ago. It was also more the norm at that time than you might think. You found the right person for the job and you trained them or molded them into the employee you needed.

How many business owners do you know with an MBA? How many businesses are started by people who have a degree rather than an idea? I think we all know the answer to that, and I also think it is not a secret that running a business is just as much of a skill as any trade. There are certainly degrees and certificates that can impart knowledge, but what it takes to become a true expert in any field is time, talent, and the fortitude to succeed. You need a place willing to train you as well as willing to employ you, and speaking frankly as I often get in trouble for doing, there just aren’t very many companies in Alberta willing to train anyone.

Talent CrunchHave you taken any time to read the help wanted section on LinkedIn or Monster recently? You need a degree, 20 years experience, and a Pulitzer to work in a warehouse according to the ads that are out there. Do we have a talent shortage in Alberta? Boy do we! It makes me feel a little sick when I see an ad for a purchaser that says you need a Bcomm and an SPSM to be considered along with a minimum of 5 years experience for a junior position. Really? I have 20 years experience in supply chain, and I have run 2 multimillion dollar companies, but I don’t have either of those credentials. Does that mean I don’t qualify because working in industry doesn’t count?

Talent Crunch

The fact the government is trying to encourage companies to train the workforce is a great step forward.

To test this out (and with the permission of my current employer) I actually applied for this job. I wanted to test this companies system. I applied online, I was over-qualified on some fronts, and under qualified on a few as well, but with my experience surely I could be trained to learn the few things I didn’t know. I would have expected to get an interview at the very least a phone call. After I spent an hour filling out their application online I went about the rest of my day. Two hours later I got an email response and I started thinking I was such a catch they couldn’t wait. Dear Mr. McCaffery, the email began, we would like to thank you for your interest, but your qualifications do not meet our minimum requirements for the position…

It was an auto-response. It wasn’t sent from an actual person, but a computer had looked at my resume and sent me packing. Now I am not perfect, but I have great references from everywhere I have ever worked. I have certificates (not a degree) from U of C, I learn quickly, I am well spoken – wait… Do I seriously have to sell myself here? I deserved at least a phone call and the fact that I didn’t get one is a small view into a very broken job market in Alberta.


The Canada Job Grant is a new program that has the government and business joining forces to train Canadians. The grant was supposed to help businesses pay to train their employees. The government changed their mind as they often do and instead of this helping to pay for training on the job, the grant will only pay for training through a recognized trade school or university. School is a great place to learn, but as I stated earlier it is a small part of training an individual to be an effective and productive person within a company. I do not want to limit the grant to on-the-job training only, I just think the government is wrong in limiting the grant.

Talent CrunchThe fact the government is trying to encourage companies to train the workforce is a great step forward. However, I don’t think there is enough training in the world that will fill the open jobs currently on the market. There needs to be a move to bring out the craftspeople in our companies to train on-the-job. Companies have to be willing to take their best people to train the next generation. We may also have to spend some time training our companies that they don’t need to find someone with a perfect resume to fill a position. They need to find the right person and help them build the skills they can put on their resume. There isn’t enough grant money in the world that will solve this problem in it’s current state.

Tom McCaffery
General Manager

Talent Crunch







Originally published in the 

November 2014 issue of Oilfield PULSE