Bridging the American Workforce Skill Gap

Employees in trade professions are looking for the right people to hire, but many hopeful employees don’t have the skills necessary for the positions. With more access to …

Employees in trade professions are looking for the right people to hire, but many hopeful employees don’t have the skills necessary for the positions. With more access to education than many previous generations had, why are high school graduates leaving school without marketable skills? Why is it that so many people are searching for jobs, but employers are unable to find qualified applicants? The answer lies in something called the “skills gap” and it is a growing problem. There are several circumstances that have led up this problems, but what can be done to solve the dilemma?

One of the big factors is that the emerging work force has startlingly different values and interests than the departing laborers. Those workers from the baby boomer generation are moving past the age of retirement, but the number of workers coming in are much smaller. This may be the result of fewer people in the next generation and could also be affected by the declining numbers of people who are satisfied to do that type of work. Younger workers are looking for positions that pay more and require less training – or simply jobs that require a completely different skill set.

Another issue is that employers prefer to hire new workers who come with experience. This leads to a couple of different problems. The first is that new technology is constantly changing the way that tasks are done, so it is hard to find those individuals who have been able to keep pace with those changes. The second issue is that the schools and training programs preparing the workers to fill positions are not keeping up with the changes in emerging technology. In fact, a third issue may also present some trouble; that being that some of the smaller workplaces and those that are located away from more populous areas aren’t keeping up with the times either.

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The skill gap itself has led to a third problem; employers don’t have the ability to provide on-the-job training. Where they once may have had enough manpower to hire young apprentices or part-time assistants, nursing them along until the worker gained sufficient skills, workplaces are now struggling to find enough skilled workers. Without one or two skilled laborers with a little spare time to provide to new and upcoming workers, there’s no room for training in the workday.

In addition to those skills that were once passed from father to son or from master to apprentice, a new set of skills is required from the emerging workforce. These include communication skills, basic and advanced familiarity with technology, and mathematics.

What happens to trade professions when qualified skilled applicants aren’t available? One of the most obvious answers is that either positions go unfilled or they are filled by people without the necessary qualifications to complete jobs accurately or well. This leaves tradespersons with clients who are increasingly unsatisfied. In fact, a large percentage of employers report that the lack of talented workers has impacted their ability to provide for their clients.

Have you been affected by the skill gap? Are you an employer who has struggled to fill positions? Use the following infographic to track the cause and effect relationship resulting in and perpetuating the skill gap. Can you use the information to come up with solutions for your business place?


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