Misalignment Between Employers' Needs and Workers' Skillsets

Numerous sources agree that there is about to be a shift in the skillsets that are most needed in the industry, and the ones workers are currently in possession of. Routine manual skills are expected to decrease in demand, while other skills – like the ability to work with data and with robots, and general “soft” social skills – will be in strong demand.

This shift will mean that many employers’ needs will go unmet when it comes to the skills they expect their workers to have. Workers won’t be able to reap the benefits of the stronger economy and will not find workplaces willing to take them in.

@KaitlynBean, @vehien, you may be able to help us answer our questions here. We’re interesting in finding out what governments and companies are already doing to address this problem – and why those efforts aren’t adequate or aren’t succeeding. (Unless you believe they are!)

@alysia_o, you may be interested in this discussion as well.

@Matthew_Poland, you might also be able to advise us on this, given your own experience. What are some worthwhile initiatives trying to match employers’ needs with workers’ skillsets?

I think this actually starts with finding a way to accurately understand and document the needs employers have. In the past, we’ve assumed in the workforce development space that employers have a good understanding of their own skill needs and I don’t think they really do (on average). Workforce development practitioners then have to try and act on partial or faulty information to develop programs that are not effective.

@NickOttens one of the things I see there are not addressed is the urgent need in making all workers part of the formal economy. As many works, will be automated, many could be displaced from regular jobs, and start informal opportunities, that will have consequences such as unbanking, non able to being to a pension system, or social security. Today 60% of the population already work in the informal economy, so this could get worst with automatization

@dianadaniels - Such a good point! Can you imagine a middle ground where gig jobs / the informal economy can actually benefit folks who (for whatever reason) are unable to join the formal economy? I’m thinking about things like work-from-home jobs for people who can’t afford childcare or who don’t have reliable transportation to work.

If so, how might we build a reliable, supportive infrastructure for people who are working “gigs” in the informal economy?

@Matthew_Poland - I have some past experience in recruiting and I think you are spot on. From my experience, many employers would simply cut and paste job descriptions (with corresponding skill and education requirements) from other JDs. Do you have any ideas of how we might think outside of the box here? How we might set employers up for success with skills-needs-assessment tools and the like?

@Matthew_Poland and @HeatherSutton are spot on in my experience with employers. Registered Apprenticeship is gaining some traction in Massachusetts in fields other than the building trades through partnerships with Apprenti and competency-based hiring platforms like https://skillist.co/ are creating new avenues into employment. I also think that the conversation about education and skill development needs to evolve. Just as employers are not necessarily adept at naming skills, individuals are also likely to default to talking about their education rather than their learning. We need a way to capture learning that happens outside of school - like through degreed.com

@Ann, you may also be interested in this discussion. Please share your view with the community!

So true @alysia_o ! Thanks for adding those interesting links too! We love learning about the tools that are currently out there and it’s great to know that some organizations are attempting to quantify and capture the skills/aptitudes that might otherwise go under the radar.

@TravellerBeyond, @LiliGangas, @lheisser, you may have insight on this discussion as well. Please share your opinion with the community! And if there are any innovations you’re aware of that are trying to address this misalignment, please let us know. Thanks!

It looks like everyone agrees that there is going to be a skills gap, and that it’s going to become wider as we move into the 2020s and 2030s.

To what extent do we think employers are willing to clarify and train for necessary skills? Maybe if we can find some examples of models that work well, that’s one way forward. I know that Amazon has made some investments in worker training / education (https://www.aboutamazon.com/amazon-fulfillment/our-fulfillment-centers/training), and also Starbucks (Learning And Development | Starbucks Coffee Company and Education: Starbucks Coffee Company).