Demand for skilled workers will be at least 20% more than the available workforce by 2030, according to BCG’s Rainer Strack, and the increased demand for even higher skills will exacerbate the problem.
The skills gap is real, and it is going to get worse.
Fifty years ago, we heard philosopher Eric Hoffer predict displacement of low-skilled workers as automation replaced people. His predictions have come true. While technology has created many more jobs than it eliminated, the new jobs require higher skills.
When the United States public school system was founded over 100 years ago, its purpose was to prepare workers for the American industrial machine. The process worked very well for a very long time. But it hasn’t kept pace with technology growth.
Even worse, education is declining. While it is harder for high school graduates to find work, fewer graduates are prepared for college. And a 2013 study by staffing firm Adecco found that 66% of hiring managers don’t believe college prepares graduates for the workplace.
In misguided attempts to focus on the basics, schools did away with programs that teach the reasoning skills that make good workers. Music and art have a profound effect on brain development. They teach students to think. Music teaches students to recognize complex patterns in real time, and now-defunct drafting and shop classes taught tactile learners how to plan and execute projects.
In our opinion, Government is not the answer. In the United States, fifty years of profligate spending on grants and student loan guarantees made higher education more available but much more expensive. The result is an entire generation saddled with enormous student loan debt which are not well prepared for future work.
Many businesses are aggravating the problem. Instead of growing talent, they are poaching it, relying on recruiting talent rather than developing it – or they are outsourcing to remote foreign workers – a stopgap measure.
Skilled foreign workers are helping to bridge the gap for now, but their home countries are facing problems. India is struggling to provide higher education to meet the demand, and many students are opting to study in the United States. China is facing skills gap, even with its vast workforce, and Mexico is beginning to experience the same pinch.
Leading companies are taking action. Spending on learning management systems is expected to grow at 25% yearly rate over the next few years, and these new systems are delivering new ways of learning.
E-learning is quickly replacing traditional methods of training. It is more effective, less costly, and gives quicker results.
- e-learning improves retention by 25-60%.
- Companies who use it can boost productivity by 50%.
- Companies who offer best practice e-learning and on-the-job training generate around 26% more revenue per employee.
- Self-directed instruction has a 60% faster learning curve than instructor-led training.
(“Top LMS Statistics and Facts For 2015.” e-learning Industry, May 26, 2015 (Retrieved November 25, 2015).
The growth of e-learning and social learning is leading to a revolution in how people gain skills and knowledge. The internet has become a vast learning machine, and people are taking advantage of it. They are using and sharing learning resources at an ever-increasing rate, and forward-thinking companies are using advanced LMS capabilities to curate the resources to make them available to everyone who needs them.
Even tiny startups can take part in the e-learning revolution. The cost of learning management systems starts at zero. For example, WordPress, the most popular website platform in the world, is free, and the LearnPress LMS plugin is also free. It requires minimal skill to operate and support is widely available. While it may not be robust enough for a medium to large enterprise, it can get you started.
There are other ways employers might bridge the skills gap with e-learning:
- Hire attitude, not skills. People who are lifelong learners will outpace the traditionally educated who are not so motivated. Give them a chance to learn.
- Make curated content available to the public. How delightful would it be to interview a job candidate who has completed your skills training program? Many people would love to gain technical skills, but they can’t put their families and mortgages aside to go to a technical college.
- Partner with local colleges to offer apprenticeships and internships with class credit for your learning content.
If you need skilled workers, non-traditional learners may be your path to the future.
Pixentia is an enthusiastic family of individuals, fervent to make lives simpler through effective use of technology. Our mission is to implement solutions that drives business results. Know more insights from our thoughts and experience.
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