Problems of the Foreseen “Skills Gap”

Problems of the Foreseen “Skills Gap”

Employers and staffing firms alike have shown great concern in a skills gap that has been identified and anticipated to worsen over time. I have heard many suggestions on how “we” as human resource professionals, and company representatives should assist in resolving this issue. The federal government has shown its concern and proposed providing more funding for the school. For technical schools…yes, of course; for colleges and universities…maybe not so much. 

Based on the information provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in my own analysis and judgment, the positions with the greatest changes require less than a high school diploma, a high school diploma or associate’s degree. By constantly promoting college and creating this image that college defines ‘success,’ we are creating an overqualified society. 

We have lost the value of skilled labor, and thus, diminished the important role these positions have in society. So, instead of supporting the government to fund millions into colleges and universities, how about stimulate growth in high schools and technical schools. How about we create a program focused on increasing interest in these positions that are anticipated to grow substantially in the next ten years.

As an employer, I do not feel obliged to have to go to middle and high schools to convince students why they should work at my company five to ten years later. If the government is concerned about this skills gap, let’s work wisely to create a viable solution.

Overeducating our workforce in areas with low demand is not maintaining a foundation that has been established for this country. Thousands of individuals are experiencing a diminishing rate of return when they spend additional years obtaining a degree that will not provide additional income or higher quality of life.

I am not ignoring the fact that there are many positions that require a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctorate degree. And to be honest, I was quite shocked at the number of positions expected to have high growth with the requirements of a Master’s or Doctorate degree. For these positions, I truly believe there should be funding focused on these fields. But to say that the cost of an undergraduate and graduate degree should be a fraction of the cost it is today would only create more issues. 

The fact of the matter is, there are not enough positions requiring bachelor’s, master’s, or doctorate degrees to lower the cost and continue to promote these programs. It’s time we as a society get realistic; determine the real needs of our communities, and work together to find individuals to meet those needs. We have determined the positions expected to grow and identified the shortage in labor supply. Our next step is to promote short-term training programs and attract enough labor to meet future demands.

Four of the top ten positions with the greatest percentage of employment change require less than a high school diploma. Two of the top ten positions require a high school diploma; and two of the top ten require an associate’s degree. Are you sure spending thousands of dollars on a degree will secure everyone’s future?