This in-place, under-employed worker is a force to be reckoned with as a competitive threat for those trying to enter or return to work. A lack of job creation and job growth finds the Boomer staying in their jobs longer leaving fewer openings for Xers to move up, and not opening lower level positions for Millennials. This is creating gridlock in the workplace. No way in, no way out and no place to go.  

Restoring the luster of the past is an onerous task. But it is critical to move the under-employed to full value employees. While we train new welders, acupuncturists and computer programmers in the hopes that these jobs may exist in the future, we have virtually ignored those who are stuck-in-place workers. 

Note to the under-employed: it is all about skill development. As the market for jobs improves, on the job training won’t get this development done fast enough. It is now about night school, online training and about exponentially increasing your marketability internally through the acquisition of critical competencies to rise above those trying to return to work. But here is an important caution. Funding from our government seems to be going to training for jobs that may not even exist when you are finally skill rich.  

Note to Congress:  we need to fund micro-enterprises that help to employ over 25 percent of our American workforce. We need to teach and encourage entrepreneurship. Many of those who are under-employed have interesting ideas but can’t bring them to complete fruition or find the funding. When dealing with adversity we have always shown our resilience as a nation by getting out of the box of our despair and encouraging creativity, energy, and passion for new ideas. Except today. We are stuck. 

So, watch out graduating millennials or re-entering boomers. These under-employed folks are hungry, stuck and going for the plum jobs from the inside! Be prepared to compete – and compete fiercely.

And watch out Congress – you have millions inside trying climb back in the saddles you are trying to create for those on the outside. Don’t ignore them. 

Jim Finkelstein is the president and CEO of FutureSense®, Inc. and author of Fuse: Making Sense of the New Cogenerational Workplace.