Is The Skills Gap Keeping You From A Better Career?

skills gap training

When it comes to finding that first new job out of college or a new career, many applicants are told that they don't have the right skills. The result: Millions of positions go unfilled even though there are many more millions eager to find work.

It's known as the skills gap, and though there's been no shortage of discussion about the source of the problem and possible solutions, it's not clear which skills Americans are lacking. Employers say today's workforce lacks a combination of skills. For example, many manufacturers are looking for workers with technical savvy, including the ability to work with robotics, read blueprints, and use computer software to create documents and spreadsheets.

But it isn't only technical skills that employers are after. As the Portage Daily Register of central Wisconsin reports, hiring managers are also looking for soft skills, such as an ability to forge and maintain relationships and communicate effectively, as well as knowledge of basic workplace behavior. "To get people to show up on time, to get them to come in on Mondays or Fridays, to not be on the phone all the time" -- these are the workplace skills that employers say are lacking in today's workforce, Gene Dalhoff, a regional economic development official, told the newspaper.

The shortage of technical skills is the result of several factors, according to Anthony Carnevale, director of the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce. In a recent interview with PBS, Carnevale noted these issues:

  • Structural employment, in which jobs lost in one sector of the economy, such as construction and real estate, disappear for good, while other sectors, such as health care and education, expand so fast that the pool of qualified labor can't keep up.
  • Curriculum mismatch and the inability of colleges and vocational schools to keep up with advances in technology within industry.
  • Production lags between graduation rates of new students in the future and current demand by businesses. They include an inability to properly educate students for jobs that will be in demand.

Though the skills gap presents challenges for those looking for work, additional education may not be the answer. As Forbes recently reported, with college tuition rates having skyrocketed in recent years, the prospect of getting a specialized certificate or an advanced degree is well beyond the means of many Americans.

"[T]he 'conventional path' has become so narrow, that it hardly even exists," wrote entrepreneur and Bleacher Report founder Bryan Goldberg on Pando Daily. "You can't just go to grad school and 'become' anything: a lawyer, a banker, a doctor, a journalist, a manager."

The future instead lies in low-cost or even free training online, offered by both startups, such as Udacity, and traditional colleges, such as Stanford University and the University of Maryland, in courses such as finance, business, computer programming and more. As Forbes notes, Udacity's business model is based on providing free education in math, science and technology -- including high-demand computer programming skills -- from anywhere at any time.

"Usually I reach about 200 students and now I reach 160,000," CNN quotes Udacity's founder Sebastian Thrun as saying after the launch of his first online course. "In my entire life of education I didn't have as much an impact on people as I had in these two months."




Don't Miss: Companies Hiring Now


Related stories


Looking for a job? Click here to get started.

Add a Comment

*0 / 3000 Character Maximum

18 Comments

Filter by:
TDP

Is it a "skills gap" or an "expectations gap"?

I'm on the low end of the totem pole. I earned an AAS in Electronics from an accredited institution in 2001. I was hired immediately into a position with Kodak, repairing PC controlled light and heavy equipment. Within 3 years I was promoted into a junior engineering position (everyone else in the department had BSEE). I worked that position for another 7 years before the entire department was knifed.. such is life.

I have the background to work almost all of these low-level EE technician positions that are posted (and remain open for months to years). What I don't have is an exact match on the minimal requirements consisting of a page-long list of 5+ years experience - practicing EXTREMELY specialized skills on specific pieces of equipment and processes, the combination of which would only exist with individuals found either in-house or with a direct competitor.

- I have the background.
- I understand the principles.
- I communicate well.
- I can, have and continue to learn (pursuing my BSEE).
- I know I'm starting over.
- I'm desperate to work... I am spiritually hungry for it!!

No one is willing to break me in... even on the low end.
Truth be told... It's a poachers job market... It stinks, but I can't fault them!

May 23 2013 at 1:28 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
igrant9679

The job situation for college grads is a tough one. As a matter of fact it's tough job marker for many demographics. With that said, sales or customer service will always be marketable skills. Even retail jobs that offer commissions or bonuses can be very lucrative for college grads until they find jobs in their desired fields. The National Association of Sales professionals (http://www.nasp.com) is a great association for college grads to join even if they are not marketing majors. Membership is free. I'd recommend it to any college grads or anyone for that matter because every job can benefit from learning the influence and communication skills that can be found on the article library and training programs on the site.

March 08 2013 at 12:31 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
petpetdon

Most kids graduating from college don't have any skills. Many have never even had a part time job. Mommy and Daddy gave them everything they wanted and did everything for them. They haven't had to work for anything in their lives. AND NO, getting a college degree is not work.

March 07 2013 at 10:44 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
rmeyers773

THE US CORPORATION MINDSET GAVE AWAY OR TRANSFERED SO MANY JOB SKILLS OVER SEAS AS A MEANS OF INCREASING A BOTTOM LINE PROFIT THAT THEY SOLD THE FUTURE TO THE OVER SEAS COUNTRIES WHERE LABOR IS CHEAP AND EASILY TRAINED TO DO REPEATATIVE WORK RATHER THEN CREATIVE INNOVATION. NOW THEY HAVE NO OPTIONS BUT TO BRING THE WORK BACK AND HOPE THE INVENTIVE SPIRIT WILL BRING ON A BETTER WAY TO MAKE THINGS. SOME JERK RUNNING THE BUSINESS WHO IS OVER PAID AND NONE PRODUCTIVE WILL AGAIN SHIP THE WORK OVERSEAS AFTER THE DOMESTIC CREW AS CREATED A BETTER PRODUCT. WE NEED HONEST AND CAPABILE LEADERSHIP, NOT GREEDY CEO'S WHO ONLY TAKE AND NEVER GIVE TO A COMPANY.

March 07 2013 at 9:18 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
buddy7768

THE ONLY JOB WE'RE GETTING IS A JERK JOB FROM THEGHETTO BOY

March 07 2013 at 8:42 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
pegleg11852

Whats keeping me from a job? No one will hire me. Got laid off october 31st. Great halloween present

March 07 2013 at 6:32 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to pegleg11852's comment
SeaboardStation

Its not pretty out there. I remember spending 12, 14 hours a day sending resumes. Most never even responding. I finally decided to start my own business. I'm working on getting everything put together now. I'm sure you have some type of talent. Take advantage of it.

March 08 2013 at 12:13 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Hello Larry Lee

Ok Everyone back to work:)

March 07 2013 at 6:05 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
rtgarton

A lot of rubbish. There are so many "overqualified" or whatever over 50 willing to take jobs. They dont want to take early SS and they arent asking much. Lots have a good work ethic but they hit a brick wall. Hell I cant even find a good home improvement contractor who does quality work. I base my hire on mainly two things. One is a clean neat appearance and Two his or her attitude.

March 07 2013 at 5:28 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to rtgarton's comment
SeaboardStation

Careful, these GC's nowadays want tradesmen to work for way below industry standards. You want get quality or anyone who cares with this mind set. I had one GC that did work for us, tell me he had made more money than he had ever made the last four years. He did it screwing his subs. Some have the subs do the work, with no intention of paying. Be very careful. I only do work for my friends now, and I'm starting a new business in a totally different field.

March 08 2013 at 12:20 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
olleblue

Recent medforced meical problem has forced me to look for work at home .

March 07 2013 at 2:30 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
bootsnlevisnme

That's all well and good, but please define current and certifiable skills. It appears to me, based on experience, that the people who are hiring don't even know what they are looking for. I hold a Masters degree, thirty five years in human services working with a myriad of populations. I have many skills and am all too frequently told that I am overqualified, is that a short answer for too old? Or, do they fear for their own jobs as I have years of education, experience, and skills that they could only hope to obtain?

March 07 2013 at 2:21 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Search Articles

Top Companies Hiring

Week of Nov 9 - Nov 16
View All

Picks From the Web