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Where is the gap?
In Adecco’s 2013 State of Economy and Employment Survey, they asked 500 senior executives where they feel the biggest skills “gap” is. Their results are a little surprising – 44% believe that the biggest gap is in soft skills: communication, collaboration, and critical thinking. The second highest gap they identified is Technical Skills, which was cited by 22%, followed by Leadership Skills with 14% and Computer-Based Technology Skills, cited by 12%.
Why does this matter?
64% of the executives surveyed believe that the skills gap is causing investment to go to companies abroad, rather than in the States, and 45% believe that businesses are missing out on growth opportunities as a result of the skills gap. 59% feel that today’s colleges and universities in the US don’t prepare graduates with the skills needed for today’s workforce, and 89% think that corporate apprenticeship or training programs could help alleviate the skills gap. Apparently college students and their parents think so too, because since the University of Cincinnati started the first co-op program in 1906, today co-op programs and internships, which integrate times spent on campus learning with times spent in the workforce, are offered by more than 2,000 U.S. colleges and universities according to www.collegeboard.com.
How can we fix these gaps?
For the softer skills, I think employers need to start expanding their training programs to focus on soft skills and leadership development. A former client, The Ariel Group, is very successful at helping executives of Fortune 500 companies, major consulting firms and educational institutions to improve their leadership skills by developing presence that enables them to inspire employee engagement. Further, TrainingIndustry.com’s list of the Top 20 Leadership Development firms highlights some interesting providers. There’s Skillsoft, which is a global company utilizing technology to deliver a broad array of training to employees at companies across the globe. There’s also Interaction Associates, whose mission is: “By demonstrating the power of collaborative action, we transform the way people work together to achieve their goals, create value for organizations, and foster human dignity in the workplace.” I can’t help it – I just love that mission statement! And any company that looks for a training partner because they believe in that mission statement probably lands on the “Best Place to Work” list every year. On TrainingIndustry.com’s list of Top 20 Leadership Development Firms to Watch, we find Mind Gym, another educator with a unique focus (“If I love my company, do work that plays to my strengths and am becoming more capable every day, I am more likely to feel motivated, engaged and in control.”) . Mind Gym’s unique set of online and in person training addresses a broad spectrum of the soft skills that the Adecco Survey says are missing today.
Wade Hughes, CEO of The Intersect Group, has an opinion about how to reduce the Technical and Computer-based Technology skills gaps. He developed an interesting infographic, illustrating the three places he believes we should start.
1) Start with education – make 2-year schools more attractive by showing prospective students the numbers (30% of Americans with Associate’s Degrees make more than those with Bachelor’s Degrees.)
2) Reskill existing workers – Internal hiring costs 20% less than external; and employees who have been invested in by their company with training and development have greater longevity because the employer recognizes that they are worth investing in.
3) IT/Education Partnerships – Such as NM&S (National Math & Science Initiative), and the partnership between Udacity, Georgia Tech & AT&T, which enables an employee to get an Online Master of Science in Computer Science for less than $7,000.
So share with us – where do you see gaps, and what ideas do you have for fixing them?