Legal Law

Job skills gap or mismatch

During the Great Recession and since then, we have heard of a skills gap in America, which is partly responsible for low productivity and, by extension, slow economic growth. There appears to be evidence of a gap in employment. There are currently 6.2 million unfilled jobs, compared to 5.6 in 2016; 45% of small businesses cannot find job-ready candidates; And the results of a January 2018 survey of 500 senior executives found that 92% think the pool of candidates is not as skilled as it should be.

There are many finger points. Some of the main criticisms include:

The education system is outdated and ill-adapted to prepare students for a fluid economy, with a wealth of technical and mathematical skills.

Employers, both at the corporate and small business levels, are not allocating adequate resources to training and apprenticeship programs, leaving the workforce with a skills deficiency.

There is a growing cultural bias against useful machine and tool-oriented skills in construction, manufacturing, and trades, discouraging younger workers from choosing those careers.

Increased automation is creating a demand for a more technically competent job candidate than the current job market can offer.

Old jobs are becoming obsolete while new ones are being generated at a rate the economy cannot keep up.

Soft skills, such as those that emphasize collaboration, communication, and teamwork, are not acquired enough at home, school, and the community.

Job creation is so fast and unemployment so low given the robust economy that the workforce does not have the time or the means to adapt.

The problem is the unmotivated workers who do not want to take menial jobs or work the night shift, or who like drugs more than work, or who are spoiled young people used to having everything handed over to them.

All of these factors are likely to play a role in why there are so many unfilled jobs. You would think that this is a simple supply and demand problem to remedy. Identify the specific skills that most employers need, and then have education and training providers improve the skills of students and workers to learn and master the required competencies. But apparently this is not so simple.

What strikes me about research on this topic is that there are virtually no lists of specific skills that are in short supply. We can find the career areas where there is a shortage, for example, in nursing, industrial technicians, computer networking specialists, etc., but exactly what the elusive skills are seems to be largely a mystery. This suggests to me that there may not be a skills gap at all, but rather a glitch in the way people align with the job they are best suited for. In other words, there may be a mismatch between too many workers and job opportunities.

This lack of fit problem is not new. For the past century or so, it has been a challenge to match larger numbers of workers with burgeoning career options. In fact, the field of professional development grew out of the need to address this problem. What is new, perhaps, is the increasing scale and scope of an unprecedented number of potential workers and career opportunities. The degree of guidance, counseling and training by schools, businesses, professional associations and other stakeholders to improve the alignment of the available workforce with job demand may need more attention than has been accessed to date .

If true full employment is to be achieved, and with it the benefits of economic growth and widespread prosperity, it seems in everyone’s interest to insist on refining the processes by which workers can access high-quality advice and training to do their job. cope in the best way to job shortage. . Government, education and business could partner more effectively to forge solutions.

The gap we now face may be more one of commitment and shared commitment than of skills.

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