Due to aging population demographics, labor force participation is declining. Many middle-class jobs are now requiring individuals to have higher technical and soft skills. This gap between what employers need for their business and what job seekers can offer the employers is known as the skills gap.
Understanding the Skills Gap
With much debate about the causes and solutions of the skills gap, it has become a complex issue to understand and navigate. Some factors, which have been identified by experts, include:
- Not enough properly-trained graduates. For in-demand jobs in fields such as healthcare, engineering, computer science, and advanced marketing, employers are having a difficult time finding people who have the training they need. Some point to career and technical education as the answer.
- Automated job match programs are yielding poor results. Employers list ideal requirements in job ads, whether technical or soft, which many applicants don’t have listed on their resume. This results in low match rates and fewer potential candidates. However, some of the ideal requirements are teachable or simply not listed on the person’s resume for whatever reason, which eliminates qualified candidates from the job pool for that position.
- Unwillingness to provide training. Some employers would prefer job seekers and employees complete all trainings for a position on their own rather than training in-house. Many candidates who don’t have all the technical skills have the soft skills and will needed to succeed at the job, they only need a bit more training once hired. Companies who are willing to train otherwise qualified candidates are likely to have a more effective workforce.
- Lack of soft skills. While many new graduates are tech savvy, they lack basic communication skills in addition to other critical soft skills. Although technically prepared for a position, the soft skills required to effectively communicate within an organization or to clients leaves them out of a job or underemployed.
How To Fill the Skills Gap
The U.S. must find ways to expand the workforce and improve productivity to help fill the skills gap. It’s important that policymakers, businesses, and educational institutions work together to create programs that focus on technical AND soft skills training so that potential employees can accept higher-paying jobs with family-sustaining wages. Greater emphasis must be placed on training current and potential employees who have never attended college, an often neglected segment. By addressing this segment, both workers and employers will benefit from enhanced skill levels, allowing them to become more productive and more successful.
Although a nationwide focus on this challenge is important, it’s necessary for skills-training partnerships to be created locally. Local government, community leaders, and business leaders can work together to bring awareness to the skills gap by identifying skills needs and then creating programs to fill those specific needs.
One example of this type of joint effort is The Jobs Partnership, which is dedicated to building a healthy workforce. By taking The Jobs Partnership’s LifeWorks training program, free to qualified students, people will learn the soft skills needed to land and maintain a better job, as well as receive connections and opportunities for technical training. Upon graduation, students will also have the opportunity to meet and interview with our network of employers during an exclusive job fair.
Skills-training programs are likely to be trademarks of successful communities as they continue to create growth in the middle-class, which is seemingly diminishing. By attending our LifeWorks training course, you will become unstoppable on your path to a better job and a better future. Complete an application today to get started.