What Goes Around Comes Around

"For years, PNC Bank found it relatively easy to fill the humblest branch job: the teller. Offering modest wages and standard hours, the position required only basic skills and was supposed to diminish with the advent of new technology such as ATMs and online banking.

"Today, PNC needs more tellers than ever and is having trouble finding them.

"Throughout the U.S. service economy, companies are stumbling across similar problems as they transform once mechanical front-line jobs into troubleshooting and marketing roles that demand greater abilities. For banks, the entry-level teller position has become the primary way to win new customers and sell new services to existing ones.

"As a result of that switch, and a boom in the number of bank branches, there's a staffing crunch in the industry that is forcing employers to raise wages, perks and training to get qualified staff. PNC is now targeting retirees, homemakers and college students to fill teller jobs...

"Banks say they face an additional problem: Many of today's high school graduates are no longer equipped with the skills -- from fundamental math to the customer-service touch -- to fill increasingly complicated jobs.

"Tellers, who generally have a high-school education, are being positioned to interact more with customers and nudge them toward newer financial services…

"Officials at LaSalle Bank, the Chicago-based unit of ABN Amro Holding NV, have started discussing whether teller applicants need an associate degree instead of just a high-school diploma or equivalent. Their worry: bank branches tend to fill more-senior positions from the ranks of tellers. As a result, the company needs people with more education to fill the teller jobs so they can be trained and promoted."

(“Expanding Banks Bemoan Lack of Qualified Tellers.” Sudeep Reddy. Wall Street Journal: July 17, 2007. pg. B.1)

HUMANITY trumps technology once again as touch remains the central principle of commerce.

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