other day I reviewed the results of an international survey which
has one of the most serious shortages of skilled labour in the industrial
world. That didn’t surprise me much. We’ve been hearing for years that
our schools must begin to produce more skilled graduates in the trades.
What did surprise me, however, is the survey found that employers
are not just having trouble finding employees in the skilled trades field.
In fact, the positions they are having the most difficulty filling are for
That’s right! Employers in Canada
have indicated that they simply cannot find enough sales representatives
for their companies. That is
their number one concern.
The report is indeed a revelation and should be a wake-up call for
our business and educational leaders. We can spend a lot of money and time
encouraging young people to get training in skilled trades, to stay in
school to get post-secondary degrees and diplomas, to become professional
teachers, doctors, nurses, etc. However,
all will be for nothing unless we address the severe shortage of skilled
sales representatives in this country. Without a good sales team, a
company will suffer the same fate as the man in the story.
So what do we have to do to fill this shortage of skilled sales
representatives? For starters, we have to allow young students in
elementary and secondary schools to find out that it is all right to take
chances with new ideas and to take risks. We have to give them experience
in ‘selling new ideas’ to their peers and adult leaders. We have to
help them improve their ‘oral communication skills’ instead of having
them spend so much time on paper work and playing games on computers. We
have to let them see that rejection is not to be taken personally and that
for every idea that is turned down or for every ‘no’ you receive, you
are simply that much closer to a ‘yes’. We have to give them
opportunity to ‘work on their own independently’ instead of always
being part of a ‘team’ where they can ‘hide’. This list can go on
The most important thing we must do is elevate the status of sales
representative in our society. By improving the public image of sales
representative, young people may one day feel that this is a career itself
and not just a stepping stone to a management position.
Or we can just continue to do things the way we’ve always done
them and when company after company closes its doors, it will solve our
shortages of skilled trades people.