The impact of wages—which ought to be a primary factor in any story on why a company can’t find workers—gets short shrift here. The main discussion is in the last three paragraphs of the story:

The shortage of skilled workers has also pushed up wages, though executives said raising them too far could push more work to overseas plants.

A Michigan company that makes camshafts for cars, as well as farm and mining equipment, has had ads out for at least six months for CNC machine operators and programmers. The pay runs from $15 to $21 an hour, a relatively good wage in this part of the country.

“The problem is as soon as we get someone in, one of our other guys will jump ship,” said Tyson De Jonge, engineering manager at Engine Power Components. “They get better offers.”

So match them.

Letting companies complain that there’s no reserve supply of labor when they need it amidst mass unemployment is a bit much. If you need the perfect fit, you’d better be prepared to pay that prospective employee or to train him or her.

As Capelli writes:

TFinding candidates to fit jobs is not like finding pistons to fit engines, where the requirements are precise and can’t be varied. Jobs can be organized in many different ways so that candidates who have very different credentials can do them successfully.

Only about 10% of the people in IT jobs during the Silicon Valley tech boom of the 1990s, for example, had IT-related degrees.

And if you’re thinking of doing another one of these “can’t find workers” stories, which are plentiful, recall this Capelli anecdote from a follow-up WSJ column:

But a remarkable number of those who wrote were in positions where they were hiring, including recruiters. They reported that their organizations had shortages of employees because they would not train or invest in new hires.
My favorite email came from somebody in a company that had 25,000 applicants for an engineering position and the staffing people said none of them were qualified. Could that really be possible?

Ryan Chittum is a former Wall Street Journal reporter, and deputy editor of The Audit, CJR's business section. If you see notable business journalism, give him a heads-up at rc2538@columbia.edu.