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With Job Candidates Lacking Skills, Wall Street Turns to Boot Camps

Despite spending $100,000 on an education, graduates still need to take spreadsheet analysis courses. Shouldn't schools teach students how to use a fundamental business tool?

Despite a capital markets employment base that has shrunk an estimated 30 percent since its peak in the early 2000s, financial services organizations continue to struggle to fill open positions.

Industry job boards list hundreds of positions each week and hiring managers say that finding the employees with the right skills is extremely difficult. Granted, many firms have cut back on training programs and have relied upon employees to "teach" themselves new skill sets in recent years, as revenues have fallen and discretionary spending has plummeted.

Still, it is hard to take Wall Street firms seriously when they bemoan the lack of available talent, yet the spend almost nothing to enhance the skills of their own workforce. So, it's good to see that Wall Street firms are investing in education and training programs for new hires, at least, according to a New York Times Dealbook article that discusses Wall Street "Boot Camps."

The so-called Boot Camps are designed to bring newer, entry-level workers up to speed with building spreadsheets and database extraction since many business schools don't teach these skills to students. Huh? A $100,000 undergrad or business school education doesn't offer basic business training in Microsoft Excel, the preferred tool of basically every business person on the planet?

Every student coming out of school with a mountain of debt who hasn't received this type of valuable training should demand a refund. In fact, if a student doesn't have these skills, they'll have to pay a few Gs more to get up to speed:

Enter specialized boot camps where -- for fees that sometimes exceed $1,000 a day -- would-be masters of the universe can perfect Excel modeling techniques and financial analysis. Each year, tens of thousands of students at the nation's top business schools, and scores of new hires at financial firms, including Goldman Sachs and the Blackstone Group, now take courses run by companies like Training the Street and Wall Street Prep.

Apparently, the business schools also realize that their curriculum are lacking in the basic skills department. In fact, they are doing what any good business does when it needs services that is outside its core competency: outsource.

Nineteen of the country's top 20 business schools now use Training the Street to teach an estimated 20,000 business majors every year in how to interpret financial statements, value corporations and run spreadsheet analyses.

To recap: Wall Street says it can't find candidates with the right set of skills and the business schools -- despite high tuition rates -- realize that they don't offer basic spreadsheet skills programs to students, so they outsource it to financial boot camps. Yikes. Greg MacSweeney is editorial director of InformationWeek Financial Services, whose brands include Wall Street & Technology, Bank Systems & Technology, Advanced Trading, and Insurance & Technology. View Full Bio

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