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The Skills Gap is Still a Problem in 2016
In March of 2016, Pearson’s and The Atlantic came together in Austin to present “Confronting the Skills Gap: The Texas Experience”, a forum session that included the City of Austin’s Mayor Adler as well as Andres Alcantar, the Chairman and Commissioner representing the Public Texas Workforce Commission.
The panel was put together to discuss the issue of the skills gap, a phenomenon affecting Austin as much as it is the world at large. The Texas comptroller had previously issued a report detailing the problem in 2014, which stems from a surplus of jobs in the market that require skilled work, and not enough workers trained with the skills to fill those jobs.
A Global Problem That Affects Everyone
Just as the skills gap problem isn’t native to Texas, it’s not specific to any particular industry either. From white-collar industries such as engineering and informations technology to more traditionally blue-collar skilled labor industries such as oil and gas, the hunch is that students are not getting the education and training that they need in high school and college to be competitive. Unfortunately not everybody agrees.
Most believe that it’s undeniably real, but not everybody. Some believe the creation of the skills gap is the fault of hiring managers and industry execs, a facade built upon unrealistic expectations, while others believe that it’s due to poor quality of education in our school systems. A quick look at Texas’s surprisingly high graduation rates would cast doubt on the idea that our schools are failing us–until we ask what’s happening to those students after high school.
“30 percent of these kids are going to college and what about the other 70 percent?” asks Jerry Thomas, dean of the College of Education at the University of North Texas. He points out that questions should also be directed employers, saying that they should be asked if the students who are graduating are work-ready, according to KERA news.
While many would like to point their fingers solely at those in education to come up with a solution, there are those that side with Thomas. Amy Holloway from Texas CEO Magazine also points out that Texas executives are going to have to play their part in bridging the gap. She suggests that sharing business information with state educators will provide better clarity for all involved, better preparing students for the current job-market-climate and providing industries with the trained workers they need. She also mentions that promoting career opportunities within the industry and tapping into state programs to make training more affordable would both help to close the Texas skills gap.
Preparing For the Future and Avoiding the Gap
For now, the best thing that a student can do to help themselves is to make sure that they’re planning for the future as well as working in the now. While the businesses might not be communicating the information well, it’s out there for you to dig up yourself.
For example, any home tutor in Austin could tell you that Texas students planning on sticking around the Lone Star state stand just as good of a chance (if not a better chance) of picking up a high-paying job after attending a two-year-college or trade school as they would a traditional college. This is because students are flocking to schools to obtain 4-year-degrees when the skills gap is widening most in areas that required higher-wage middle-skill jobs (usually requiring a certificate or two-year degree). Big players in these fields are going to be the manufacturing, logistics, construction, and energy industries looking to fill jobs that pay in excess of $100,000 annually. This would be great information for businesses to divulge to college goers on a regular basis.
Unfortunately, there’s no alarmingly apparent, readily available answer to the skills gap in sight. The best that parents and students can do is research in the job market, and urging local business leaders and schools to work together to provide more visibility on emerging trends.
Of course, ensuring that you or your student is ready for secondary education is the most direct control you have over curbing the skills gap. Contact us today and speak to a Grade Potential Representative about your education.