Thursday 20th October 2016                 Change text size:

Skills Gap Analysis in American Workforce

Mind the Gap By Alistair Sutton via FLickr

If you are like many American employers, you may be having a hard time finding skilled workers to hire for your organization. Of course this puts a strain on your business, because without highly skilled and experienced employees, it is challenging to meet the needs of your customers and clients. 54% of business owners and managers claim that this problem is negatively affecting their companies, so you’re not alone. Some blame these challenges on shortages of available applicants; others are frustrated by job applicants’ unrealistic salary expectations and inexperience.

You may have found that not only is the pool of skilled laborers shrinking, it’s getting older. Many of the individuals who do have the right know-how for technical and mechanical jobs are middle-aged. In fact, highly skilled laborers are among the oldest workers in the nation. The average age of a job applicant in the skilled trades is 45-years old. A younger generation of workers must be trained before current workers retire, or this trend will become even more problematic.

You may have plenty of job applicants with college degrees, but if you’re like many other employers, you’ve found that a degree from a traditional college or university doesn’t give these graduates the skills to do the work. This can be true for multiple reasons. For example, as students, these individuals were probably given precise instructions for their entire academic career. They probably had professors who watched over their shoulders every step of the way. Now, without a teacher guiding them, these new graduates might be lost. If they studied traditional coursework, they may lack the necessary skills to do specific jobs. Even if they learned about mechanical, building, and vocational trades through textbooks, without hands-on experience, they are ill prepared to do actual work. Workers need to be able to critically analyze situations on the job and act without being told what to do at every turn.

Vocational education can prepare students to perform specific career tasks if the CTE (Career Technical Education) program has the resources to effectively train them. In order to prepare job-ready individuals, technical schools should have state-of-the-art equipment and instructors who have actual experience in the industry they’re teaching about. Hands-on learning is imperative in order for individuals to gain enough expertise to enter the world of work. Knowledge gained through textbooks is valuable, but having experience actually performing job tasks is invaluable for developing skills.

You may also have the problem of trying to keep your existing employees up to date with continually changing technology. Your workers’ skills may have gotten rusty over time, and updates are necessary to stay current in your industry. If this is the case, you can solve your dilemma by having technical instructors come to your job site and train your workforce in order to upgrade their skills. Instructors from CTE programs can hold seminars and workshops at your facility on topics such as building codes, plant maintenance, electrical drawings, schematics, and mechanical systems.

If you want highly skilled workers, investigate top quality vocational education and apprenticeship programs, so you can hire new graduates who are adequately prepared, or arrange for seminars and workshops at your job site to train your existing employees and update their skills. Look for schools that offer small-group settings, instructors who are experienced in the industry, and programs that incorporate decision-making and hands-on learning.



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