May 262011
 

Skills Gap: Closing the Skills Gap

Skills Gap: Mike Prokopeak –  5/25/11, Chief Learning Officer Magazine

To boost educational achievement, CLOs can do more than tutor in local schools and set up internship programs for college students. They can play a direct role in shaping tomorrow’s workforce today.

skills gap With graduation season in full swing, newly minted graduates will hit a U.S. job market that is finally showing sustained signs of life. That’s good for them.

The news for companies looking to hire highly skilled graduates isn’t nearly as good. That future workforce is ill prepared and lacking essential skills for job success, says a report from Corporate Voices for Working Families, a nonprofit advocacy group.

According to its survey of 400 U.S. employers conducted with The Conference Board and the Society for Human Resource Management, high school graduates were rated deficient on 10 basic and applied skills rated as important by employers. College graduates fared better, but still lacked key written communications and leadership skills.

Judging by international standards, things don’t appear to be getting better anytime soon. Results from the latest Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) study of 15-year-olds across the globe, released last December, showed that U.S. students continue to fall behind their peers in other countries. They ranked 14th in reading, 17th in science and 25th — below the global average — in math. A Georgetown University report released last year indicated that by 2018 the U.S. will be short as many as 3 million highly skilled workers.

“What we’ve got is a systemic issue,” said Cheryl Williams, executive director of the Learning First Alliance, an organization made up of 17 education associations. “The system we have actually did exactly what it was designed to do, which was to prepare a quarter to a third of students for higher education and the rest for manufacturing jobs.”

While the world has changed, that educational system has stayed the same. Today, Williams said every student must achieve to a high standard on multiple levels. “The world is much more complex now than when this education system was designed 100 years ago,” she said.

While employee education is typically an inward-looking affair focused on providing employee development and boosting workforce performance, there is a role for CLOs to play in closing the external skills gap apparent in today’s students. It starts with collaboration between businesses, educators and the communities they serve.

Skills Gap

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