What is the skills gap?
The skills gap is the oncoming—or, in some cases, already here—gap between the skills current employees have and the skills they’ll actually need to perform a job skill they actually need to perform a job well.” or “skills they’ll actually need to perform a job well in the future.
Many industries are soon to find themselves in a crisis due to there not being enough trained talent available to come in and replace exiting members of the workforce. So what can be done about this? First, let’s take a look at the root cause of the skills gap.
What’s causing the skills gap?
The problem is actually quite simple to explain—as older workers with advanced skills and knowledge are leaving their industries, there are fewer and fewer new workers of equivalent skill coming in to replace them. These senior employees are retiring and taking their knowledge with them.
This is significantly impacting specific sectors like manufacturing which, according to this piece from LinkedIn, could find itself short nearly 8 million workers by 2030. But the problem is more complicated than the lack of equal replacement numbers. Let’s investigate why industries like manufacturing are set to experience such a crushing loss in their workforce.
Part of the reason fewer young people are desiring to work in manufacturing is an explicit lack of incentive or opportunity. Not long ago, there used to be different but equal routes to a career. You could go and get a four-year degree or you could take part in an apprenticeship or mentorship program if you were considering a trade job. But apprenticeships have steadily declined; the United States has lost over 11,000 apprentice programs since 2000. All that’s left is to go to college—an impractical option for many people—or you go straight into the job market after high school working in retail or a factory and hope to work your way to a senior position.
What do new employees need?
As identified by this piece from Robotiq, the three skills that are lacking in the coming workforce are trade skills, soft skills, and technical skills.
Trade skills are the skills typically taught through apprenticeships—electricians, plumbers, welders, and other undervalued but incredibly necessary skills. Soft skills refer to teamwork and critical thinking abilities—not skills that are the basis of a job, but ones that can definitely separate a good employee from an average one. And finally, technical skills represent the ability to work with and troubleshoot automated processes, a sort of combination of the two previous skills.
As you know, people aren’t born with skills—we acquire them through education and opportunity. If those are gatekept from people, there’s naturally going to be a gap in skills that will affect the coming generation of workers.
What can we do about it?
The answer, of course, is to provide further educational opportunities for these new employees to learn the skills they need to complete these essential jobs. Many companies are starting to take advantage of digital credentials and badges to help bridge the gap and get younger, less traditionally experienced employees.
Upskilling is going to become an essential part of the future of work. Increasing the ability for the workforce to constantly evolving in their understanding of their careers. But what will become even more important is the ability for hiring managers to think outside the box.
Many people have experience that you won’t find on a resume. By taking a deeper look at your applying talent pool, you can pinpoint workers who are actually more skilled than they let on to help bridge the gap within your company. The best way to do this is to incorporate an assessment into your hiring process. By doing so, you’ll have a better and less biased understanding of your candidates. Remember, it’s skills and experience that matter, not degrees. To keep the workforce going, we’re going to have to change our mindset about what makes the perfect employee.