Work Force Training must Keep Pace with Trends

It’s hard to get your head around the "global talent crisis," which, in essence, is there aren’t enough people to fill the jobs that exist. How can that be with more than 14 million unemployed people?

It comes down to this. The wave of emerging jobs are in science, technology and engineering or are mathematically based. Referred to as STEM jobs, there simply aren’t enough people with the skills and education these high-skill/high-wage jobs require, said Edward Gordon, author of "Winning the Global Talent Showdown."

With the vast majority of vacant jobs being STEM-related, they "require a good high school education plus specialized postsecondary career education, two-year or four-year college degrees, one- or two-year college occupational certificates or a two-to three-year apprenticeship education," Gordon said in The Futurist.

When you look at who’s unemployed by education levels, you can see why unemployment rates look the way they do. He points out that the unemployment rate among high school dropouts was 15 percent in May "contrasted to 10 percent for high school graduates, 7.7 percent for those with some college and 4.8 percent for those with a bachelor’s degree or higher."

The issue, he said, is we’re "not producing enough graduates with the kinds of technical, communications and thinking skills needed in the 21st-century workplace."

Instead, "U.S. society has pushed many of its best and brightest students and mature workers into finance-related jobs that fed a massive short-term speculative bubble."

Unless students and incumbent workers get the training they need over the next 10 years, we’ll have 12 million to 24 million vacant jobs "stretching across the entire U.S. economy."

Another problem is a cultural bias against the rigorous educational preparation needed for these types of jobs.

It’s amazing, Gordon points out, how many people love technology — iPods, iPhones, Twitter. But "due to cultural reasons, they don’t acquire the training to design, repair or manage the technology." People haven’t been encouraged to go toward STEM careers. Even in Japan, they call this phenomenon "the flight from science," he said.

The heart of the issue is "the seldom understood fact that the education-to-employment system worldwide is badly out of date," Gordon said. If this doesn’t change, this country "will see increasing numbers of people, even degreed individuals, with poor job prospects." To prevent this, we need to reinvent our "talent-creation system."

This will take many things, including more employee training. But businesses need incentive to do that by being allowed to depreciate this investment, suggests Gordon. It requires expanding business-education partnerships with businesses, educators, unions and legislators working together.

And it means being open to a career path you might not have considered.

Gordon cites indications that by 2020, 74 percent of all jobs will be high-pay/high-skill, with 123 million people needed. But only 50 million Americans will be qualified for them.

On the other hand, low-pay/low-skill jobs will shrink to 26 percent of total U.S. jobs, which means only 44 million people will be needed for them. At the rate we’re going, we’ll have more than 150 million Americans available for these jobs.

Knowing the trends and where you stand, on which side of the equation will you fall? And what steps do you need to take to ensure your career is on the side you want to be on?

SHREVEPORT TIMES

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