On Tuesday, Donald Trump promised he was about to bring back coal mining jobs when he signed an executive order to undo President Barack Obama’s efforts to protect the environment from climate change. The truth is that the jobs Trump imagined no longer exist. According to an article in the New York Times, cheap and abundant natural gas, increasing renewable energy sources and an industry that is increasingly replacing coal miners with machines have drastically reduced the employment opportunities for workers.
In my book, From Bully to Bull’s-Eye: Move Your Organization Out of the Line of Fire. I discuss the attraction and retention of talent because it is quite clear—within five years this will be the biggest challenge for most employers. Retention might not be the problem in the case of coal miners, but the truth is that there are almost as many jobs going unfilled as there are workers going unemployed.
According to the Wall Street Journal, “Demographic trends coupled with a skills mismatch have resulted in a frustrating economic paradox: Millions of workers are underemployed even as millions of jobs go unfilled. The U.S. workforce is also graying, presenting a challenge for industries that entail manual labor.”
In construction, skilled workers are aging out of their industries and younger workers just aren’t getting the technical training they need to replace them. In agriculture immigration restrictions keep skilled farmhands from arriving in time to save crops from rotting in the field—and American workers can’t be enticed to do the backbreaking work even for $20 per hour and benefits. Without innovative solutions and psychologically healthy, safe and fair workplaces no amount of deregulation will make a difference.
It’s clear that Trump’s executive order does nothing to help workers and everything to harm the environment.
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