In 2017, several education and human resource organizations in Kentucky surveyedmore than 1,000 businesses across 22 industries found that 85 percent of employers considered recruiting workers with new and different skills difficult.

Traci Tapani, President of Wyoming Machine, a family-owned metal fabrication business, came to the same conclusion. “What we started seeing a decade ago is that the skills that people needed to bring to the job were different than they were in the past. When we combine a tight labor force with the fact that people don’t really have the skills you’re looking for, we’re in unchartered territory.” 

What is the “Skills Gap”?

This is referred to as the “skills gap”­– a disconnect between what employers want their new employees to know before they begin working and the skills that the applicant pool actually has.

Some believe that the skills gap has never been a legitimate issue. Matthew Yglesias of Voxand Matt O’Brien of the Washington Postwrote about new research presented at the American Economics Association’s annual conference, arguing that employers change their requirements to deal with the volume of resumes high unemployment produces. 

This new research is not inaccurate, but the lines critics are trying to draw from it are misleading. 

It is true that in times of high unemployment, more credentials and qualifications are added to job descriptions. However, employers add these requirements because it reduces the number of applications they get. While this outdated practice makes it easier to filter through applications, it does not guarantee the best hire for a position. 

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation found that it is not just a lack of specialized skills available. Employers don’t communicate their needs to the education community and there is no consistency in how employers and their education and training partners collaborate.

 

In the last few years we have seen the skills gap gain new dimensions given the change in workplace development, jobs and in-demand skills. 

Advances in Communicating Job Requirements

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation found that it is not just a lack of specialized skills available. Employers don’t communicate their needs to the education community and there is no consistency in how employers and their education and training partners collaborate. 

This launched a workforce development planto create stronger alignment between employers and their training partners. The cornerstone of this is Talent Pipeline Management™ (TPM), which focuses on the supply of talent from education and training to the workforce. The objective of TPM, active in 26 U.S. states, is to develop more clarity on the most critical skills needed for jobs.

The Job Data Exchange™ (JDX) is a leap forward when it comes to communicating job requirements. The JDX open data resources will support more accurate, comparable, and machine-readable data on in-demand jobs. It will help employers send real-time information about changing jobs and skills to education and hiring partners.

No matter if the “skills gap” exists, it is clear that there is miscommunication about skills required by employers. A dynamic and evolving labor market would benefit greatly  from improving cooperation between education and employers