hand, if such a person is not forthcoming, it may take months or even a year to recruit and hire the “dream date,” with the common result that the project schedule is not met.

The fact that this behavior is understandable does not make it entirely rational, and a relaxation of the requirements needed to fill any job opening will result in a larger number of now-qualified applicants. And some companies are indeed taking the route of hiring applicants who possess many of the required skills and training the employee in the remaining job requirements. For these companies, it often takes less time to provide this training and upgrade a new employee 's skills than it would take to continue searching for the ideal job candidate. For the companies that testified to the committee, the “break-even” point was typically 4 to 6 months for the “retrain versus hire-from-outside” decision because college grads only become available on that time scale (i.e., every semester).

6.2 EXPANDING THE POOL OF IMMEDIATELY AVAILABLE WORKERS

One approach to coping with tight labor markets is finding better ways to identify talent within the labor pool. A natural consequence is for employers to search from the broadest possible pools of talent. On the assumption that the distribution of human talent does not respect ethnic, racial, or national boundaries, this is fundamentally the “enlightened self-interest” rationale for employers seeking out workers from underrepresented groups as well as from the traditional pools, and it is also a major rationale for seeking talent abroad.

6.2.1 The Role of Assessment

To find ways of utilizing a broader pool of talent, it is necessary to use assessment techniques that can identify qualified individuals in that broader pool. (For purposes of this report, assessment is the process by which employers evaluate applicants for the purpose of making hiring decisions.) For the IT employer, assessment is particularly difficult because of rapid change in technologies and in the business. Such change makes it difficult to analyze the requirements of today 's jobs and even more difficult to identify the skills, knowledge, and ability that might be required in the future.

Assessment techniques are never perfectly accurate. There will always be false positives (applicants who are hired but cannot perform the job) and false negatives (applicants who are rejected but can perform the job). Preselection screens using hiring standards that are too high cause many false negatives, and many applicants will be rejected even though they



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