We are bombarded by information about America’s “skills gap.” Every day, news stories report the now infamous 6 million unfilled jobs in the country. At the same time, those of us engaged with the nation’s workforce development system struggle to help under-skilled job seekers work toward economic security and meaningful career paths.
Employers struggle too; they’re reassessing their entry level skill and educational requirements and their pay rates. They’re hoping to find a solution to vacancies that put stress on managers and cause existing staff to do “double-duty” to get the work done.
But production is not the only cost of the ongoing American Skills Gap, according to a recent survey by CareerBuilder. Their April, 2017 survey of over 2,300 employers and 3,400 workers tells a story of higher employee turnover, reduced staff morale, lower quality work and lost revenue. Matt Ferguson, CEO of CareerBuilder and co-author of The Talent Equation, says "There's a significant supply and demand imbalance in the marketplace, and it's becoming nearly a million-dollar problem for companies."
Experts call on government, educators and employers to increase a commitment to training, and improved collaboration to reverse the gap and improve outcomes for employers and workers alike. As we at Maher work with partners in the workforce and education systems, we see regions developing solutions like Registered Apprenticeship and other forms of work-based learning that show great promise. We’ve seen employers willing to make investments and work more collaboratively with us to close the gap.
While there is much more to be done, we are hopeful that system leaders will embrace sector-based approaches to business engagement and collaboration. Sector-based approaches are, in our opinion, a winning strategy for tackling American’s Skills Gap – which after all, is really a composite of regional labor market gaps that are best addressed through true public/private partnership.
Turnover and lost productivity are “soft costs,” and they rarely show up on a spreadsheet. We think that placing a dollar figure on the skills gap, as CareerBuilder has attempted to do, is an important step. It may prompt business executives, system leaders and policy makers to support the investments of time and money needed to find solutions. We hope so.
Maher & Maher is a specialized change management and talent development consulting firm based in New Jersey and Washington, D.C. The firm is U.S. Department of Labor’s national technical assistance provider supporting the Employment and Training Administration’s implementation of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) and a number of other priority initiatives of the administration that advance and promote the public workforce system. Maher is also currently involved in a number of sector strategy, regional planning, organizational strategic planning and training initiatives in multiple state and regional areas. For more information about our services, visit our website or call us at 1-888-90-Maher.