Close the Skills Gap: Get with the 21st Century

Cornerstone Editors

Recent graduates can’t land jobs, while employers complain that they can’t find people to hire. The facts just don’t add up, yet the troublesome gap is widening.

Educators, entrepreneurs and political pundits alike are weighing in on the so-called skills gap — the widening split between what educators are delivering and what today’s modern workforce needs. We live in a world in which half of the jobs today didn’t exist 25 years ago (think app developers, data scientists and social media managers), Dennis Yang writes on Forbes — so the gap is presenting an interesting hiring dilemma.

How can employers and educators anticipate and build skills for the future workplace that likely will change shape even faster in the coming years?

Accept and Adapt Practical Skills Courses

Students and experienced workers need to take education into their own hands, Yang says. There is already a healthy demand for online classes geared toward practical skills — the market hit $91 billion last year and is projected to top $256 billion in 2017, according to investment firm IBIS Capital.

Online platforms like Codeacademy and Dev Bootcamp offer classes in computer programming. Skillshare’s online, project-based courses focus on creative disciplines like photography, interior design and sound editing. With so many options to choose from, students don’t always know which ones will land them a good job. Yang says that companies will need to step in and apply the lessons of these programs in a more systemic way.

Make Job Requirements More Transparent

Employers also will need to alter the job descriptions they post, according to Yang. "Companies would define jobs not only by traditional job descriptions but also by a set of skill-based courses over which prospective jobs seekers can demonstrate mastery. Job descriptions could include a playlist of courses required to prepare for the job," he says. This strategy also applies to developing the skills of existing employees, who could benefit from individualized learning plans to help them reach the next level.

Rethink the Workplace Along 21st-century Lines

Many workforce training initiatives ignore new realities, Ira Wolfe writes on The Huffington Post. "Even when the skill training and education is on the right path, it doesn't consider how the definition of work, the description of a job, and the re-shaping of the workplace has changed," Wolfe says. Few jobs are permanent; more generations work side-by-side than ever before; and many employees work remotely. "Employers must rethink the concept of a workplace and the definition of work and jobs before they can expect communities and government to develop more skilled workers," Wolfe says.

Photo: Can Stock

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