What Your Company Can Do to Address the Skills Gap

Is the skills gap holding you backBusinesses 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?

Apparently not.

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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Why the Skills Gap Matters Today and Tomorrow

The skills gap is realThe first part of this series, The Skills Gap and the State of the Economy, introduced a startling gulf between the skills the current American workforce has and the skills it needs to remain competitive. What this gap means for American business, however, is the real story.

While 92% of the 500 executives that we polled believe a skills gap exists, only 13% reportedly believe that the gap is a major threat to the U.S. economy. The reason for such a disparity may be the simple fact that the skills gap hasn’t negatively impacted most businesses — yet.

A 2012 report by McKinsey & Company features alarming predictions for the future of the labor market: by 2020, there will be 40 million fewer workers worldwide with the education and skills that employers need. Meanwhile, the surplus of unskilled or low-skill workers will surge to almost 95 million.

This is a dire prediction indeed. The manufacturing sector is likely to be hit the hardest by this gap, a finding supported by our survey results. 30% of those surveyed believed that the existing gap affects manufacturing the most, with technology (21%) and professional and business services (19%) close behind.

Even though a relatively small number of those polled believe the gap to be an imminent threat to the U.S. economy, three other statistics from our survey provide a glimpse of what the future might look like if the gap goes unaddressed.
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The Skills Gap and the State of the Economy

Job seekers lack soft skillsThere are plenty of available jobs in the U.S. Unfortunately, there’s no one to fill them.

This is just one of the surprising findings revealed in a 2012 white paper by the World Economic Forum. 600,000 jobs are currently unfilled in the manufacturing sector alone. This figure seems at odds with the unemployment rates that have become a media mainstay over past several years. With so many people out of work, how can so many jobs be open?

The problem, it turns out, is a considerable gap between the skills American workers have and the skills they need to perform in the contemporary industrial workplace.

According to the white paper, 67% of industrial hirers polled experience substantial difficulty finding employees skilled enough to do the available jobs. 56% polled said that they anticipate the problem getting worse in the near future.

To understand more about this issue, we recently surveyed 500 senior executives in a variety of industries. Their responses emphatically underscore the World Economic Forum’s findings: a troubling skills gap exists in the United States, and it threatens the very future of American business.
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How will the federal government shutdown affect you?

US Congress

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

With Congress failing to reach a compromise on the Continuing Appropriations Resolution of 2014 and approve Federal spending guidelines, the government was forced to shut down on October 1st.

Roughly 800,000 federal employees have been furloughed and are not working. However, 1.3 million federal employees have been designated as ‘essential employees’ are continuing to work throughout the shutdown, but will likely face indefinite paycheck delays. Additionally, overall economic worries are surfacing as IHS Global Insights, an economic consulting firm, has reported the United States economy will lose roughly $1.6 billion each week the government is shut down – approximately $12.5 million per hour.


While all of this is important to the economy, one question that remains is– how will this federal shutdown affect you?

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SHRM 2013 Day 3 Coverage – Part 2 | Hiring millennials and the cost of a good hire

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We’re back for more day three coverage of SHRM 2013.

Hiring and retaining millennials

Dan Schawbel is the Managing Partner of Millennial Branding, a Gen Y research and consulting firm. He is the author of the #1 international bestselling book, Me 2.0: 4 Steps to Building Your Future, now in 13 languages. His second book, Promote Yourself: The New Rules For Career Success, will be released in 2013 by St. Martin’s Press. Dan is a columnist at both TIME and FORBES, and has been featured in over 1,000 media outlets, such as Wired Magazine, PBS Nightly Business Report, “The Willis Report” on Fox Business and ELLE Magazine. He’s spoken at Google, NBC Universal, McGraw-Hill, Harvard Business School, MIT, Time Warner, IBM, and CitiGroup. Dan was named to the Inc. Magazine 30 Under 30 List in 2010, the Forbes Magazine 30 Under 30 List in 2012, and BusinessWeek cites him as someone entrepreneurs should follow on Twitter.Our first afternoon presentation, Building the Workforce of Tomorrow, was hosted by Dan Schawbel, Managing Partner, Millennial Branding.

Schawbel started his presentation by debunking the notions that millennials, those born between 1982 and 1993, are entitled, insubordinate, lazy and ungrateful. He pointed to some powerful statistics to back it up:
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Consider these tips before considering multiple recruiting agencies

Recently, I received a call from a distraught friend, who had just received an angry phone call from a recruiter. The recruiter had recently submitted my friend for a job through his staffing agency. The hiring manager responded that my friend was already in consideration through a competing agency. The recruiter was upset with my friend for not mentioning that he had already been submitted for the job. My friend, on the other hand, had no idea that he had already been submitted; or that two agencies would be working on the same job.
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