Businesses in the U.S. are experiencing a skills crisis. More than 600,000 jobs went unfilled in 2012, simply because the workforce was not skilled enough to do them. The Skills Gap and the State of the Economy, the first part of this series, uncovered how and why this is possible. The second part, Why the Skills Gap Matters Today and Tomorrow, addressed current and future implications for U.S. business.
Now that we’ve covered what it is and what it means for business, we’ll address strategies that employers in the U.S. can adopt to close the skills the gap and position themselves for sustainable growth and lasting success in the years to come.
First, the root of the problem. Is the labor force itself the issue?
Only 23% of the senior executives we surveyed feel that the skills gap comes from a lack of interest from job seekers in pursuing careers affected by the skills gap.
In that case, it certainly can’t be the education system. A 2012 white paper by the World Economic Forum notes: “In 2011, 215 US-based science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programmes are ranked globally, while only 29 Chinese programmes can claim the honour.”
And yet, 59% of senior executives we polled in 2013 do not feel that U.S. colleges and universities prepare graduates for today’s workforce.
So what gives?
The answer can be found in a statistic we covered in The Skills Gap and the State of the Economy:
“44% of executives reported that soft skills — intangibles like communication, creativity, collaboration and critical thinking — were lacking among hires and job candidates.”
These skills aren’t taught in classrooms. Four (or six, or even more) years of engineering, chemistry, math, and technology education can’t teach these skills. But apprenticeships and on-the-the-job training can.
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