BernieBorges.com Blog: Social Media and Web Marketing
3 Ways to Narrow the Jobs-Skills Gap
Fixing The Jobs-Skills Gap is Not an Option
There are an estimated 12.6 million people unemployed in the U.S. And, there are an estimated 3.5 million job openings by employers who can not find qualified employees. Yet, everyday we see news reports about the high unemployment rate. But, we don’t hear as much about the bigger problem – the jobs-skills gap.
Business and Government Must Partner Together
Government officials refer to this conundrum as the job-skills mismatch. So, how did we get here? Just like the industrial revolution of a century ago caused great change in skills needed from farming to factory and general business skills, the digital age has caused a tsunami shift in needed skills across all industries. Think about it, digital technology plays an ever increasing role in all aspects of business and life. Digital technology allows us to carry smart-phones with Internet access in our pockets. It also allows healthcare workers to deliver services in home as well as at a facility while easily tracking patient progress. The apps we use on our desktops, tablets and mobile devices must get developed by people with design and programming skills. The systems we use in the cloud at home and at work must be supported by skilled IT professionals. Office workers are expected to create documents, spreadsheets and presentations for everyday business communication. Even manufacturing workers now must have digital technology skills to use robots that produce the widgets we buy. In short, workers in all industries require some form of digital technology skills.
The job-skills gap is a big problem for business and for government. Businesses are missing out on productivity and the ability to compete on the global stage. Consumers are missing out on U.S. made products and services, and government is missing out on tax revenue from employees in the U.S. income tax system.
Government should not be solely accountable for fixing this problem especially since the problem is woven so deeply into our free enterprise system. The last thing big government wants is another piece of legislation that is perceived as too much government intervention in our free society. But, doing nothing is not an option.
I’m aware of at least one piece of legislation which attempts to provide incentives for employers to provide training to develop the workforce needed to fill available jobs. Let’s hope partisanship doesn’t stand in the way of passing legislation that brings together industry and government to put a big dent in this problem. The competitiveness of the United States on the global business landscape is at stake. It only makes sense for business and government to partner together to tackle this problem head on – TOGETHER, even if that means co-mingling in-the-field workforce development programs with politics.
Business & University Partnerships
It’s reasonable to ask U.S. universities why they are not producing more graduates with the skills needed by employers, namely in health care, IT, engineering, manufacturing and all other STEM related disciplines. While we can’t force students into STEM fields of study, we can ensure that universities offer relevant degree programs staffed with educators that teach current methods in each discipline. Partnerships occur between businesses and universities at local levels in cities across across America. I’d like to see Federal involvement to participate in these partnerships. I don’t think we need Federal oversight, but we need conversation to keep the Feds in the know to be proactive in future cooperative arrangements between government, industry and education.
Individuals need to be accountable too for taking steps to address the jobs-skills gap. People who are unemployed and can’t find work should asses they where are in this gap. Too many businesses complain of finding seemingly qualified job applicants with poor written and oral communication skills. While learning to be a Java programmer may not be feasible for some unemployed people, it’s not too much to ask every worker in our land to have a basic ability to communicate. Everyone has access to resources to improve their communication skills. Even if someone doesn’t own a PC or other Internet connected device, the U.S. public library system is a free resource where anyone can read books and spend time on the Internet to improve their skills. Many communities offer free mentorship and training programs through local workforce alliance groups.
Workers need to speak and write in complete sentences, not like they write text messages. This is a bigger problem than you might think. I’m often befuddled when I encounter college educated adults in a business setting with poor written or oral communication skills. There is just no excuse for it.
During an election year the politics of unemployment is center stage. I would like to see both political candidates talk more about government and private industry partnering to fix the job-skills gap problem. Our future as an economic global power is at stake. Until this issue gets resolved a U.S. president doesn’t have the right to ask Apple’s CEO why they don’t manufacture the iPhone in the U.S. That’s the wrong question to ask. A better question to ask is why do other nations know how to mass produce at a lower cost than the U.S.?
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