- Employers can close workforce skills gaps in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) positions by adopting flexible academic requirements and "upskilling" non-STEM employees, according to a white paper released Feb. 13 by Alexander Mann Solutions.
- Some U.S. companies may not hire a candidate for a computer science role if the candidate does not have a formal degree, even if they minored in computer science, according to Liz Wessel, co-founder and CEO of WayUp, who was quoted in the white paper. Wessel said that visa sponsorship requirements may also serve as a barrier to STEM talent.
- Other organizations are offering courses in foundational tech and digital training to those who do not have a STEM background, Alexander Mann Solutions said. Flexible working options may also aid in attracting emerging STEM talent, the firm noted.
In some contexts, employers see the value of and may even prefer practical experience to a formal college degree. Aside from hurdles in the recruiting process, though, workers also struggle to develop STEM skills due to a lack of opportunity.
An August 2019 Randstad US survey of workers found that 62% believed employers should invest more in developing digital skills, and 68% said they would focus on STEM fields if they could redo their educational journey. Despite this, fewer than half invested their time in learning about technologies like artificial intelligence, in part because employers didn't provide related training.
Expanding opportunity became the theme of some of last year's largest training announcements. Amazon, for example, launched an initiative to expand investment particularly in workers holding "middle-skill" jobs — workers who traditionally haven't had access to the kind of technology-focused training announced by Amazon, according to sources who spoke to HR Dive about the announcement.
L&D teams hoping to upgrade their training practices have several models to choose from. Officials at Infosys previously described to HR Dive how the company launched a new learning platform that focuses on delivering modular, personalized learning based on what employees need to know for their specific job. The platform, Infosys Wingspan, can be accessed from multiple devices, and it includes a "virtual playground" in which employees can challenge their peers.
But training alone won't save all employees from displacement due to new technologies, according to a 2019 report by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Task Force on the Work of the Future. To complement training investment, researchers said decision-makers should show "greater recognition" of workers as stakeholders.