Educators, government and employees must work to bridge skills gap
- A report from the Council of Economic Advisors highlights the need to reskill American workers for tomorrow's jobs and workforce. The report posits that today's economic growth, along with digitization and changes in the way we work, requires educators and workers to coordinate and meet the challenges employers face.
- The first 25 years of life, according to the report, are "frontloaded" with learning and skill development. Afterward, learning and skill enhancement trails off. To meet the demands of today and tomorrow's workforce, learning will need to be ongoing. Today, it is largely in the hands of businesses in the form of employee training, but that must evolve to more fully meet demand.
- The report also cites the disconnect between the needs of employers/employees and the educational opportunities available. More coordination will be required to bridge the information gap. While workers understand the need to reskill, the CEA believes government, at the federal, state and local levels, may contribute to the solution.
As the current administration strives to stimulate economic growth for the nation, the skills gap threatens to put the brakes on development. Significant talent gaps, from high tech to skilled manufacturing to trades positions are pushing employers, educators and even local government to address the needs of the workforce and business.
Some businesses have determined they can't afford to wait for educators to catch up to market need, and are providing grants and tuition assistance that directly serves their own ends. Google, for example, has offered 10,000 scholarships to American workers and students in hopes to create a workforce for itself. And Home Depot invested $50 million to train 20,000 individuals. In other words, assuring a pipeline of future applicants may mean proactively providing training and the funds for it.
The fourth industrial revolution is poised not only to change the way we work, but also displace millions worldwide. Even as the economy rallies, job growth can only occur if there are available workers. The need to rethink training, skills and credentialing appears to be only at its onset.