Roughly 7.5 million Americans are unemployed and looking for work according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, but many companies still struggle to fill key positions. Of more than 2,000 employers surveyed by CareerBuilder, nearly 60 percent say they have job openings that stay vacant for 12 weeks or longer. For companies with 50 or more employees, the number rises above 70 percent.
That affects businesses because it creates unnecessary costs and reduces the efficacy of companies’ existing workforces. CareerBuilder reports that the average HR manager incurs more than $800,000 per year in costs from extended vacancies, and 45 percent of companies say extended openings hurt productivity. Even more concerning, four in 10 companies say that long-term vacancies have increased voluntary turnover, which means that failing to fill open positions beget more of them.
One of the most pressing issues employers face today is the growing talent gap.
The skills gap can have a paralyzing effect on businesses and the broader economy. The pace of technological change is only exacerbating the problem. We’re seeing roles evolve rapidly, as they grow more complex and require additional training. CareerBuilder research has shown that 2 in 5 employers are now hiring people with college degrees for positions that were previously held by those with high school diplomas. Sixty-one percent of these employers attributed this to roles within their organizations now requiring more sophisticated skill sets.A recent nationwide study conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of my company, CareerBuilder, found that nearly 60 percent of U.S. employers have job openings that stay vacant for 12 weeks or longer. The average cost companies say they incur for having extended job vacancies is more than $800,000 annually.
During a recent panel discussion on bridging the skills gap, I had the opportunity to talk with Donna Shalala, former U.S. secretary of Health and Human Services and current president of the Clinton Foundation; Austan Goolsbee, a professor of economics at the University of Chicago who was the chief economist for President Barack Obama’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board; and Kevin Gilligan, CEO and chairman of Capella Education Co.
Today, half the people on the planet are under the age of 30. Millennials are the first “always connected” generation and the best-educated people in history, but are affected by high unemployment rates, according to the International Labour Organization (ILO).
At the same time, organizations around the world are increasingly reliant on advanced technical skills in the emerging digital economy. By 2020, economies will face a shortage of the skilled talent needed to drive prosperity and social security. Forty million high-skilled workers – especially with science, technology, engineering, and math knowledge – are needed globally, according to McKinsey.
Patty Alper, author of the new book Teach to Work, has a clever idea addressing two big national issues: the employers’ plea to get young hires with essential workplace skills and the desire by Americans over 50 to give back, especially by helping the nation’s youth. Alper calls it “project-based mentorship.” That means a person with decades of business experience mentors a student on a project the child devises, plans and implements.
Her book’s subtitle explains Alper’s vision nicely: How a Mentor, a Mentee, and a Project Can Close the Skills Gap in America.
Alper, an entrepreneur who co-founded a Washington, D.C., construction project management company in 1980 where she was one of the first women in the field, has done project-based mentoring with 600 inner-city high school students for 16 years. She thinks this type of mentoring works best with 14- to 22-year-olds. “They’re more involved in the world and beginning to think about careers — or should be — and what skills they enjoy,” says Alper, who now runs Alper Portfolio Group, a marketing and consulting firm.
Career Technical Education programs are the future of our region and our entire economy. I do not understand why so many of my colleagues in Sacramento have a hard time understanding this fact.
This month’s fight in the legislature over CTE programs – a fight that could have stripped funding for programs like the Future Farmers of America and others – was an unnecessary and misguided attempt to eliminate something that represents a fundamental and pivotal investment in our future.
In 2014, Gov. Jerry Brown made a similar proposal to eliminate CTE funding and FFA Incentive Grants. And, much like earlier this month, the governor was overwhelmed by a tremendous amount of disapproval from the Central Valley and other regions in the state which depend on funding these programs for their very future.
The Career and Technical Education Center in Ellicottville is a cut above most training schools with its new virtual firearms training system in the Criminal Justice classroom.
Students interested in a career in law enforcement are receiving virtual firearms training experience that is not yet available to their peers, or even most adults training to be police officers. Instructor Tim Emley said the Ellicottville center is possibly the only facility in Western New York to have this simulator.
Technology is pervasive. It enables almost everything in our world. As society continues to embrace technology’s positive potential, we must mitigate the risks that arise from the same advances that contribute to improving the quality of our lives and society as a whole. Given the rapidly evolving technology landscape, it is no surprise that one of the most significant and pressing challenges is that of growing and maintaining a sufficiently qualified pool of professionals. Unfortunately, this challenge remains as yet unmet, as evidenced by the ongoing widening of the skills gap in technology-centered professions.
While there is no one solution to addressing the skills gap, academic institutions are in a position to do more. By acknowledging the realities students will face upon graduation, graduates can be equipped with applied technology skills and experiences that increase their understanding of the important role technology plays in driving individual and organizational performance in a global digital economy that has already begun to evolve, in varying degrees, into a cognitive economy.