Greatra Mayana

Career & Employment Opportunities

Human Resources and Employment Trends


Hello and welcome to Talking Points I’m
Dave Kelly director of Advanced Media Production at Cal State Long Beach. Today we’re going to talk about employment trends and current human resource
practices my guest today is Mark Rodriguez. Mr. Rodriguez is vice
president of human resources at Southwest water company
welcome mark and thank you for joining us on talking points I’m glad to be here
thank you well as we begin this conversation we should acknowledge that
we’re in a very strong employment cycle right now recently the unemployment rate
nationally has been at about 3.7 percent which is the lowest it’s been in about
50 years since the late 60s also California and about 13 other states
have recorded some of the lowest historical unemployment rates ever and
we see that also there are we hear about the fact that employers have more jobs
available than there are applicants to fill those jobs here in the US now one
would think that that’s a good problem to have more jobs than applicants
available so what accounts for this very strong employment cycle and the good
times that we’re experiencing right now yeah I think it’s part of it’s because
of the stock market growth we had over the like the nine years and a lot of
companies are investing in improving their businesses through technology and
equipment processes and along with that that’s just created a lot of new
openings and then you also have demographic changes with employees
leaving that employ with employees retiring creating new openings so I
think a combination of just growth with the stock market the ability to invest
in the business is created a lot of openings for many people to get into the
job market today and we’re going to talk more about demographics in a moment and
especially about baby boomers retiring and so forth but first I want to talk a
little bit about one of the areas of employment that has been on the decline
since the late 70s and that’s manufacturing however a recent trend
reversal which is good news is that manufacturing jobs have started to come
back in fact in the month of October there were more than a thousand
manufacturing jobs created every day of that month 32,000 jobs altogether in
manufa so no one realistically expects
manufacturing to pick up and and become at the levels that they were in the late
60s but actually when most people think about manufacturing they think about
automation and robots and going into a factory and seeing it completely
automated with those robots how should we perceive this trend toward automation
and robotics looking 10 to 15 years down the road yeah I think it’s gonna get
more more and more automated as time goes along and you can see this every
day if you go to the retail market such as a Walmart or Target used to have all
these cashiers and now just all you know self checkout I travel quite a bit it
used to be you have to go check in at the desk there to get your your tickets
and check your bags and now it’s all you know kiosk you know just check your your
bags and give them the ticket and off you go so I think the automation is just
moving much forward and then also you’re seeing it today with the uber and lyft
situation you have a big taxi industry and now you’re having just you know
people just doing that kind of work so it’s just that the automation is is
moving quite quickly and then you’re seeing it in the factories with the
automobile industry with all the automation with the the robots building
the cars companies are just spending a lot of money just for efficiency
productivity improvements and you just you look at for example there’s just the
the iPhone for example you know from the telephones and we used to have
telephones at their houses and now they don’t and we basically have like a
little computer in our hands to kind of dictate you know our schedules our
shopping or travel whatever so automation is here to go and from an
employer perspective that is going to continue to grow very fast clip as time
moves on so it’s just the way it is today so it’s a software driven world as
we know yes and that’s really the essence of the trend and a lot of people
are now using the term automation and robotics interchangeably right and I
think we’ll see more of that in the future as we talk about job training and
education technology has certainly changed
game in terms of what employers are looking for and that has a ripple effect
down to the education and job training as young people are coming up and
looking to enter the workforce what about this idea of a college education
is it really essential in today’s high-tech world we’re recording this on
a college campus but we have to be realistic about it I’ve got a short list
of people that never finished college sure that would include Bill Gates Steve
Jobs Mark Zuckerberg Ted Turner Oprah Winfrey and Walt Disney and many many
others and of course those are the exceptions to the rule but there are
some good things about college and a college education but there may be some
areas where we need to look at shifting the paradigm and I’ll add to that a
question about student loans what should students that are entering college think
about in terms of what those student loans should be used for yeah I think
it’s the first question on the value of a college degree I think it’s still very
important to have even if it’s an AAA degree or a four-year degree but I think
with the proliferation of just online schools colleges where you didn’t have
that before it’s very easy to get a degree but the caveat with that it’s
very expensive and you mentioned the student loans and then third factor in
there is is the degree appropriate in today’s marketplace with the economy so
I believe if you’ve got a degree in you know accounting or finance you know
those kind of degrees are still gonna be very applicable as well as technology
any kind of you know software hardware you know technical type degrees that you
have that as long as well as well as engineering so I think the degree is
still important but however I think the students should be looking at the job
market and doing a lot of research as far as what that job may pay so if they
were gonna like get a degree and say social science or history and spend you
know fifty thousand hundred thousand dollars for three or four four years of
school it may not be worth the return as far as that degree maybe self enriched
with that new knowledge but can you actually apply it and will an employer
hire you with that kind of degree so I think the the applicant the
students should be looking at the job market see what those jobs actually
require see what those jobs actually pay and sometimes I think you’ll find on
some of those positions a degree is not required a lot of employers are willing
to train people if they’ve got you know good basic skills on communications good
aptitude teamwork employers will work with those kinds of individuals to kind
of develop and train them go forward and then on the loans part of it that as you
know is a big deal out there it’s a big debt to society it’s you know billions
of dollars and I think the students really need to take a hard look at that
as far as taking out large loans for something that may not pan out for them
long term and in their career so but do the research take a look at the market
see what that job pays and take that all into consideration as far as what kind
of major makes the most sense that will you know give you a good living and also
give you you know self enrich as far as your job satisfaction going to work
every day and so the standard cliche for many years has been the answer to
unemployment is more education but I think what I’m hearing you say is that
it’s it the answer is more training or education but it has to be targeted for
a specific application that is going to be beneficial ya know I would agree with
that the I think a person should take a look at it I think the we have a need
for carpenters out there plumbers mechanics and those are high-paying jobs
that companies can’t fill and then in addition to the technology growth out
there as far as jobs a lot of those jobs don’t need degrees they need some
courses in you know programming and that’s all you really need you can kind
of just get the experience so really take a hard look at the applicable
program and a lot of the the schools even at the junior college level are
offering specified training in various technical areas are trade type positions
and those are well-paying well-paid jobs and you really don’t need a college
degree so people maybe look at those other options when
they’re looking for a career position go forward for someone applying for a job
what makes one person stand out more than another what are employers looking
for obviously it varies by industry in terms of skill sets but if you look at a
resume go wow that’s a great applicant or a great candidate what are those
factors that make a candidate stand out yeah I think the education is still a
big deal even if it’s just a certificate program you know in a particular area
could be it could it be applicable at a degree you know a four-year degree if
it’s applicable I think the person’s work history that
the more stability you show is better and there’s also circumstances where
people have to kind of move along move move around positions because of just
you know the company went under for you know out of business or competition
whatever so that is a factor I also like to see people do community service you
know they get involved in community that type of activity any kind of social
groups that they might have been in school to kind of be engaged in the
environment so those are things we’re looking at as far as the resumes and
then you know when we need people face-to-face the ability to communicate
is very important the ability to to learn is is is important the ability to
have a can-do attitude is is also critical a team player and so I think
you kind of factor all those things in and those are things we’d be looking for
you know as a potential employee and the way jobs are looked at today and the way
applications are done is much different than it was about 30 years ago
everything’s done online much fewer instances of paper or resumes being sent
in or submitted it’s all done online talk about the process what goes on
behind the curtain in human resources when you send in your resume online yeah
unlike years ago when we used to run ads and newspapers and get like hundreds of
resumes and have to actually open up the letter and read it and then kind of send
it on to the manager to take a look at things have kind of changed over the
last many years as far as the technology aspect of
it so nowadays most companies use automated applicant tracking systems
technology and the companies will post position and will specify when that
resume comes in to look for certain buzzwords are criteria that will
actually screen those resumes so you might have a hundred resumes come in to
the company on this automated applicant tracking system they’ll look for those
buzzwords and and as it processes those hundred resumes there may be like ten
that may fit so as the recruiter you know we’re looking at 100 resumes versus
10 that’s a big deal as far as the efficiency so it saves that much time to
look at the resumes and then you’re also asking questions of the candidates and
then automated process do you have a degree do you have 5 years experience do
you have experience in certain areas so it’s it’s kind of a filtering process so
you kind of get down to that final pull of candidates we can actually look at
the resume and say hey that person fits then you would pass it on to the the
hiring manager to bring in the candidates so the the efficiency the
productivity the automation to make that work has just been overwhelming in a
positive way for the company for the employee potential employee trying to
apply there their challenges is trying to kind of figure out what that company
is looking forward to make sure they have the right words the right phrases
in there that’ll catch the attention of the the algorithms to get that person
through the gate to be considered we only have about 30 seconds before we go
to the break briefly a lot of people say this new process of using of doing
everything online is much more impersonal and they feel like they’re
just a number well they were probably just a number before as well it’s just
that it’s gone to the computer rather than the paper route that you mentioned
so is it actually in some ways better for the employer for the candidate to
submit online because you know a paper resume or a cover letter that’s written
on paper can be lost or get lost in a stack of papers but if it’s online it’s
always there is that no I think so it gives the applicant
pretty much feedback that they’ve gotten the resume has been received like by the
company and it’s being considered for the position and if the company doesn’t
have an interest in that candidate they’ll usually send them a note saying
that you know thank you for interest the other thing is that resume will probably
kept in a database so if that person isn’t considered for that position at
that time they may get a call from the employer down the road versus many years
ago it’d be it’d be a stack of resumes and put in a box and filed someplace and
kind of lost forever right so efficiency does have some benefits in that way yes
it does absolutely okay so we need to go to the break now when we come back from
the break we’ll take a look at all of these baby boomers retiring are they
taking a lot of institutional knowledge with them stay tuned should your company buy or sell
expand or not relocate or simply say the same if you’d like to examine past and
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based on all that information a career in economics is for you you can become a
part of this exciting field with a degree from Cal State Long Beach welcome back to talking points I’m Dave
Kelly and my guest today is Mark Rodriguez mark is the vice president of
human resources at Southwest water company mark we were talking before the
break about or at least I mentioned before the break that we’re going to
talk about retirements among the baby boomer demographic and I want to explore
that right now according to the Census Bureau about 10,000 people a day in the
United States are turning 65 so that means retirements are coming
some people say not enough people are retiring and creating benefit or you
know opportunity for people coming up in the lower ranks but given that we do
have a lot of people retiring today there during the baby boomer demographic
have had their jobs for you know 30 to 40 years when those folks leave and they
take the institutional knowledge with them of that particular company and also
of that industry and the history of that industry and how its operated and evolve
and so on is that a problem for employers and how do employers mitigate
all those retirements yes no it’s it’s a huge problem as you mentioned them the
demographics are changing with the retirements accelerating because of the
age the situation so as an employer it’s a very big deal – you have a lot of
people that have been there at a company you know 10 15 20 30 years or 40 and
with all that information in their brain how do you kind of transfer it to
somebody else who’s going to take their place so as an employer if they’re being
proactive in that space they are doing succession planning which is trying to
transition the work over time to get that successor up to speed as far as as
much knowledge base as possible before that person is is leaving so that is
going to be a big deal going forward I think across all industries so employers
are looking at that to make sure that they got people in the wings that are
picking up all that information and capturing before that person you know
leaves or retires so that’s it’s a very big deal
you know go forward about 15 to 20 years ago the aerospace industry contracted
significantly here in California and other parts of the country as well but
we felt it especially acutely here in Southern California and at that time it
was common for employers to give out the so-called golden handshake to employees
that were above the age of 50 or 55 and in doing so there was a big payout a big
incentive to retire early and it cost the companies a lot of money up front
but the long-term outlook was better because they could bring in younger
employees who were hungrier and also we’re willing to work for less and had a
career path so did that work out or does that kind of strategy work out for
companies is it beneficial to companies obviously it must be here they wouldn’t
be offering it what is your take on that yeah no I think if companies can afford
that that’s actually an order orderly transition of talent management going
out the door so you’re used to see that a lot more often years ago I think it’s
a little bit less nowadays because companies can’t afford it but if a
company can kind of project a date where they might have to reduce their
workforce a little bit and they can put some incentives for people to stick
around for a certain period of time it allows them to ample time to kind of get
those new people up to speed and everybody gets trained and you have an
early transition but if a company if companies can do that I think it’s a
good thing but I think you’re seeing less of it because it’s just the
affordability part of it and as we talk about retirement when you retire you
have to have a nest egg or some guaranteed source of regular income are
people putting enough money aside I have a feeling you’re going to tell me that
they’re not yeah and what is corporate responsibility in this particular area
of encouraging employees or providing a pathway for employees to save enough
money for retirement yeah no I think you kind of gave me the answer right here
ready but no employees are not saving it enough and as you know
employers used to have a lot of pensions to find pension plans where it kind of
guaranteed the employee a lifetime payment per month until they kind of you
know passed away and that’s kind of just pretty much gone out the window and you
still see that get more in the government sector but the private sector
has kind of gotten away from it but I think the employer has an obligation to
offer nowadays pretty much is going to be like a 401k plan which is really kind
of twofold where the company can offer that but it they need to educate the
employee as far as the benefits of saving and then employers are now you
know matching the contributions of the employees to help them save but it’s
it’s a big deal it’s people don’t have enough money I think I was reading an
article about fidelity funds having a research where the average 401k person
within the fidelity accounts at least had I think about a hundred and forty
thousand dollars but if you’re 65 years old and it’s gonna cost you $30,000 or
$40,000 a year to live that’s not gonna last you very long so I think with the
401k plans there’s an obligation the employers to take a more proactive
approach to help the employee say because Social Security can only provide
so much and there’s been talk about just long-term funding deficiencies on that
but no it’s it’s something that’s it’s it’s very critical very important and
employers need to do a better job in that particular area and another change
we talked about the baby boomers being in a company for maybe thirty years and
getting the golden watch and the golden handshake and what-have-you but that
doesn’t happen that much anymore people unless they’re working for an
educational institution or a teacher in a school district or something like that
where they might stay for thirty to thirty five years but a lot of people
move on and have to manage their own retirement and are we setting up the
system in such a way that the rollovers can happen from one company to the next
when people do move from one area to another or one company to another is
that set up in the way that it should be yeah pretty much so our process
is currently if an employee has let’s say three or four years of service with
a pretty company and they’ve got a 401k amount and they want to move to another
company you can either usually leave that within the current employers fund
are rolling over to a new employer or put it into a separate and account with
the 401k type plan that can help them plan for the future right so it’s
possible to do it yes that it’s it’s each person needs to take care of their
own business and that exactly yes uh-huh okay well let’s talk about unions
because back in the 60s when we had full employment and manufacturing and so on
unions are very strong very strong presence particularly in the private
sector they’re still very strong in the public sector but in the private sector
we’ve seen a slow decline of union involvement and union presence what
accounts for that and what are the reasons why we’re just not seeing that
Union presence as much as we did in the past yeah I think many years ago you
needed unions for wage competitiveness benefits and safety and overtime there’s
there’s been more regulation at the local level the state and federal level
in those particular areas so I think if you’re an employee and you have to pay
dues to get a certain wage or certain benefits behalf a safe environment you
really don’t need nowadays to have to pay that extra money sort of speaks to
have that benefit because it’s pretty much a lot of compliance going on there
a lot of regulations that kind of force that to happen and so unless there’s
kind of a mandated kind of Union situation it’s just not what it was it
used to be as far as having those kinds of programs with the the Union in place
with those kind of contributions as far as the dues go and as we talk about
regulation there are a number of new regulations one of the ones that’s been
of concern to employers in California is the rising minimum wage especially for
small businesses yeah restaurants and so on have a real
difficult time often meeting what are now called living wage mandates what’s
the impact of regulation on business yeah that’s been a very big deal as you
mentioned for small business in particular those wages have really kind
of impacted the way they do business and they may not be able to afford that many
people because of the higher wages and then you also have to kind of step back
if you have that higher minimum wage for the entry-level employee what about the
next level person and the manager and so forth so there’s kind of a chain
reaction that may impact a business to kind of compensate for that higher
minimum wage I think the minimum wage going up is a good thing to have a
living wage but it does impact the smaller business
more than the bigger business but you’re starting to see some impact with the
higher minimum wage and some of the retail type companies with bringing that
up it’s starting to impact some of their profitability and within that case that
would limit their ability to maybe keep lower prices to their customers also so
it’s a good thing from a social responsibility perspective to pay that
competitive wage a higher minimum wage but there is some impact to the employer
as far as just the cost to do business and also raising the cost for their
products or services one of the other trends is a greater awareness of
corporate responsibility and social issue sensitivity by big companies and
corporations do you see that trend continuing yeah no that’s that’s very
huge there’s a big term out there called ESG environment social responsibility in
government governance excuse me and so a lot of companies are getting involved in
the environment as you see it and the example would be maybe here in
California with a straw is going away the plastics plastic straws yeah is so
more than a paper situation and then you know just social responsibility you see
a lot of companies donating money to very so very many social causes they
have the employees get involved in those kinds of activities in the community and
then governance which is basically just compliance and doing the right thing for
the employees and their community and environment so I think you
going to see more and more of that go forward and then in addition to that if
you’re a publicly traded company the shareholders also want to see that the
companies are being responsible to their employees and their their environments
and the communities which they provide you know goods and services to since
we’re talking about California and regulations competitiveness on the
corporate level California is still a strong economy a strong employer in the
tech industry and the entertainment industry and the biomedical and health
industries yet we know that states like Texas Nevada Arizona and Florida in
particular are looking to poach jobs and companies from California where do we
stand with that no I think that’s gonna be ongoing you see the states coming
into California meeting with the CEOs of companies to
get them to come to their particular states so California it’s a great place
to live there’s a lot of talent here there’s established industries and the
tech industry of the entertainment industry so there’s a lot of good talent
here but the cost of living is is as you know is very expensive and the cost of
housing is very very big deal so those are things that are getting companies
and as well as employees to look to outside of the state and you’re starting
to see a lot of success of other states pulling companies out one here locally
in the last couple years is Toyota here that that moved from you know locally
out to Texas so there’s a lot of companies our government state
governments like you mentioned Texas Washington Nevada that are putting a lot
of carrots enticing companies to move and it’s making a lot of sense and on
the other side of it getting people to move to California is very difficult you
know the same thing to buy house again the cost living the bigger companies can
basically maybe afford compensation packages to attract those kind of people
in here but the smaller guys they just can’t compete so it’s going to be a
tough haul a big challenge for California businesses to keep employees
here and then the state of California to basically fend off the guys that are
coming in trying to poach the companies out that competition makes everybody
stronger ultimately doesn’t it yes it does and but you know you gotta have it
gotta have the people to do the work and you can’t be competitive if you don’t
have that people in place so it’s it’s a big deal and it’s a big challenge and
unfortunately we’ve run out of time but I want to thank you for being here today
you know I enjoyed it thank you very much and thank you for joining us on
this edition of talking points be sure to join us again soon for the next
episode until then I’m Dave Kelly have a nice day you

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