This month's issue of T+D tackles a critical issue that has been magnified during this economic recession and one that many believe will intensify in the coming years: the growing skills shortage in the U.S. and global job market.
"In the recession, the economy goes to sleep, but when it awakens, there will be a need for higher-skilled people to fill skill-intensive jobs," Anthony Carnevale, director of the Center on Education and the Workforce at Georgetown University, said in ASTD's new whitepaper, "Bridging the Skills Gap: New Factors Compound the Growing Skills Shortage."
Before the recession hit in late 2008, many predicted a skills gap because baby boomers were expected to exit the workforce in droves. That view was short-sighted because major concerns about the lack of skills in the workforce, even with the boomers still at work, remain in effect.
There are many causes of the skills gap - new, high-knowledge jobs; a lack of education as it pertains to workforce skills; and a lack of workforce growth - and they will continue to intensify unless organizations, the government, the education system, and workplace learning and performance professionals identify the skills needed now and in the future, and create development opportunities for employees and new graduates to master these skills.
Is it the responsibility of the secondary and post-secondary education system to ensure that students have the communication, creative, and teamwork skills to find success in the workforce? Are enough organizations creating comprehensive onboarding programs to give new hires the tools they need to be successful in their new jobs? What role should government play in this workforce upskilling?
These questions and many others plague organizations now and will continue to do so moving ahead. According to a recent ASTD study, 79.2 percent of organizations reported a skills gap in their workplace. That number is not going to decline unless learning professionals identify the gaps that exist in their organizations and implement the training needed to fill them. It's definitely a bigger issue than recognizing needs and executing training, but that's a good place to start.
The government and the education system are going to need to take some responsibility for the gaps and create action plans to close them. This critical business issue is crippling our nation's ability to compete in a fast-moving and increasingly demanding global economy.