The historically low unemployment of recent years has drawn attention to what many employers woefully refer to as the “skills gap,” which is the idea that even though there are applicants for an open position, there aren’t enough applicants who meet the qualifications.
Whether coming into the job market with a high school diploma or a 4-year college degree, many applicants lack key real-world job skills. And while many companies offer in-house training programs, they also want to bring someone on board who can hit the ground running.
The flip side of the perceived skills gap is that there are candidates eager to take on key roles in the economy who aren’t able to land a preferred job, which can result in their being unemployed, underemployed, or underutilized.
Tech and the Skills Gap
In an effort to close the skills gap, organizations and institutions from charitable foundations, to municipal governments, to school systems, to for-profit companies have started to invest more money more strategically in training programs.
This is especially true in the tech sector, where a potentially booming industry is often hampered by a lack of qualified workers. It’s also a field that promises good salaries and benefits to those able to develop the necessary qualifications.
“Preparing people for tech jobs is hailed as the great employment hope of the future,” says Steve Lohr, an author for The New York Times. “Cities and states across the country are rushing to teach elementary and high school students to write software. ‘Learn to code’ is a career-advice mantra.”
Reaching Out Proactively
Lohr says that charitable and community organizations have been increasingly working with less advantaged individuals in an effort to help them move into the middle class through tech skills training; however, the personalized attention often required by these efforts can make them difficult to scale. He notes that while there are some bright spots, overall, there is still significant room for growth.
Organizations are beginning to make a shift—a potentially significant one—from hiring based on existing skills to hiring based on the potential to develop those skills. Training, then, will be used to close the gaps.
A stronger focus on training may help bridge the skills gap to the benefit of employers, jobseekers, and the economy as a whole. The challenge is finding the resources to provide that training on a large enough scale to serve ever-increasing demand.