Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Narrowing the Skills Gap For American Businesses

American jobs are partially filled by domestic hands as employers increasingly rely on immigrant labor and foreign operations to patch shortfalls and maintain  profit margins. The skills gap at U.S. businesses may become a hefty problem if not tackled prudently. Experts predict that by 2018 there will be an expected 46.8 million open jobs with 30 million of these jobs requiring post secondary education. The problem has become so pervasive there is a projected 3 million person deficit whereby 60% of employees won't have the necessary skills to function fully in those positions (Achieve, 2012).

Not having the proper skills limits the capacity of U.S. businesses to keep up with production and technological advancement. Markets that have excess capital of labor are more appealing for investment and growth. Importing these skills can help fill this gap but doesn't solve the problem developing homegrown skills through more robust higher education and training programs.

A study of available literature argues that three things must happen to improve the skills issue  (Elkins, Bell & Hartgrove, 2016):

-Easy access to education and training.

-Investments in science and technology.

-Spur investments in American industries.

A larger group of students must reach into the halls of higher education and this will be difficult under our current system. Online education and certificates will help keep working professionals in the labor market as new skills are developed. Students without the capital to stay in dorms or enter elitist schools can find affordable education opportunities that make a dent in this gap.

Further investments in science and technology requires a solid commitment to creating a business environment through thoughtful legislation and tax reform as well as better partnerships between universities and industry. As intellectual capital grows the opportunities for new start-ups and industry cluster development also rises.

Broad investments into national growth are based on the international competitiveness of our cities and hubs.  Large fund money comes through long-term stability of the market and the projected value of companies within a larger network of competitive companies that indicate the market will need those products and services in the future. Macro-economic solutions to cluster functioning encourages attraction of profit seeking ventures.

The development of the labor force relies heavily on national policies. Industry and labor grow together and separating them is acceptance of a limited perspective. Workforce development is only possible when jobs are available and jobs are only available when companies invest in markets with educated employees willing to meet the challenges of modern society. They must rise together in a way that leap frog over each other. Filling serious educational gaps moves beyond political arguments and into the actual activities that raise brighter minds for better tomorrows.

Achieve, Inc. (2012, September). The future of the U.S. workforce: Middle skills jobs and the growing impor- tance of postsecondary education, 1(28). Retrieved from: http://www.achieve.org/files/MiddleSkillsJobs.pdf \

Elkins, S. et. al. (2016). Industry cluster pathways: a focused approach to regional workforce development. SAM Advanced Management Journal, 81 (1).

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