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The Higher Ed Workplace Blog

Many Jobs Unfilled Due to Skills Gap

A few years ago, many of us were talking about the emerging skills gap. Then the recession happened bringing with it unemployment at levels not experienced in recent memory. Suddenly, there are many unemployed individuals…many with some exceptional skills, abilities and experiences.

Enter the skills gap crisis. Around 10% (or greater) unemployment in many areas of the country, yet there are companies that are forced to leave jobs unfilled because they cannot find individuals with the required knowledge, skills and abilities needed.

Here’s a quote from an August 10 WSJ article written by Senators Landrieu and Murray:

“…of the nearly 50 million new jobs the BLS projects to be created by 2018, 30 million will require recognized postsecondary credentials. However, there will be three million too few workers with these credentials. Meanwhile, high-school graduation rates are falling—1.2 million students in America drop out of school every year, and young adults are now less educated than their parents’ generation was.”

Is the US headed for a crisis of epic proportions? What can we, as higher ed HR professionals, do to help with this crisis? Are there things we can do at our institutions on in our communities to try and close the skills gap?

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  • Anonymous

    This is certainly a problem as it not only affects jobs requiring post secondary education but also jobs that require vocational skills. Some may remember when Mike Rowe testified before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. nhttp://dsc.discovery.com/fansites/dirtyjobs/mike-rowe-senate-testimony.htmlnQuite simply, skilled individuals are leaving the workforce and there aren’t many people to take their place. Some Community Colleges are filling the gaps here – which definitely helps: http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/07/11/community-college-as-a-bridge-to-new-skills/?ref=businessnnWe also have an issue not only with HS graduation rates but specifically male HS graduation rates. Quite simply there are more females pursuing higher ed and very few have an interest in STEM subjects – leaving quite a gap in jobs requiring expertise in those subjects. So two questions persist? How do we get more males to graduate HS and secondly, how do we get more females interested in STEM subjects? Here’s an interesting take on this subject: http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2011/08/16/study_finds_that_exposure_to_romantic_ideas_discourages_college_women_from_studying_stemnFurther, we cannot forget that the cost of HE continues to rise making the barriers to entry much higher!nnI’ve heard of outreach programs some colleges are using to encourage HS students to graduate and pursue higher ed – is anyone aware of one or two? Curious to see what the results are like.

  • Here’s a just released report about the “middle-skills” gap in the “American South’s Economy” that could have a significant impact on the region’s ability to drive economic growth. Here’s a quote: nn”But while 51 percent of current jobs are middle-skill, only 43 percent of the regionu2019s workers are currently trained to the middle-skill level, a gap that threatens to undermine economic growth and innovation efforts.”nnHere’s a link to the report: http://www.nationalskillscoalition.org/homepage-archive/sga-middle-skill-report.htmlnn

  • As the economy continues to disintegrate and the forecasting for future jobs continue to be bleak, fewer and fewer people will see or feel the need to pursue higher education.