How to Bridge the Gap between What Employers Want and What Employees Can Do


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The Great Reces­sion has come and gone, yet star­tling unem­ploy­ment num­bers remain – par­tic­u­larly for those aged 25 and under. Recent esti­mates put the unemployment/underemployment rate as high as 39 per­cent for this age cohort. The unem­ploy­ment num­bers are frus­trat­ing – and paint a dis­mal pic­ture for those who are recent col­lege grad­u­ates or attempt­ing to begin careers – but before we blame the econ­omy, con­sider this sta­tis­tic: 49 per­cent of employ­ers report that they strug­gle to fill jobs. Mean­ing, the jobs are there, and we know that there is a large group of peo­ple look­ing for work, yet com­pa­nies are not hir­ing. What is going on?

The “Gap” between what employ­ers want and what employ­ees are trained to do

To under­stand why there are high unemployment/underemployment num­bers and a high per­cent­age of com­pa­nies look­ing for work­ers, we first need to look at the gap between job skills and the types of skills peo­ple have. A McK­in­sey study found that only 42 per­cent of employ­ers believe that recent col­lege grad­u­ates are ready for work. In other words, the skills that com­pa­nies seek sim­ply aren’t being taught in many col­lege institutions.

Econ­o­mists cite another issue that’s con­tribut­ing to the gap: Half of the jobs in today’s job mar­ket did not exist 25 years ago. Edu­ca­tional insti­tu­tions are not able to keep up with our rapidly chang­ing econ­omy and the types of jobs that now exist. How­ever, we can’t sim­ply blame our edu­ca­tional sys­tem for this dis­con­nect; with so many new types of jobs being cre­ated, and a demand for shift­ing skillsets, con­stant job train­ing is now para­mount. In other words, people’s edu­ca­tions can’t stop when they leave school. We’ve entered a new par­a­digm where career-long learn­ing and train­ing need to be a require­ment if we hope to bridge the skills gap.

Who is respon­si­ble for bridg­ing the gap?

Bridg­ing the gap between what employ­ers want and the skills employ­ees come with is a joint effort. Employ­ers need to offer ongo­ing train­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties and under­stand that employ­ees sim­ply aren’t being trained for the types of skills that they need, but with the right train­ing, employ­ees will become ade­quately equipped.

Sec­ondly, employ­ees need to proac­tively seek out train­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties – even before they land a job. If col­leges and tra­di­tional edu­ca­tional insti­tu­tions are not offer­ing the types of skills that employ­ers want, job seek­ers need to take train­ing into their own hands.

Com­pa­nies need to be trans­par­ent about the types of skills needed

Employ­ers know what skills they want employ­ees to have, yet inter­est­ingly, employ­ers tend to be opaque about the nec­es­sary skills, and they don’t instruct poten­tial employ­ees on how to obtain the skills. To bridge the gap, com­pa­nies need to make it clear to employ­ees exactly what they’re look­ing for, and give employ­ees tips on where they can find the nec­es­sary training.

Com­pa­nies such as Gold­man Sachs, Macy’s, and Tar­get under­stand that peo­ple in the work­force may not come with the nec­es­sary skills, but that doesn’t pre­vent these com­pa­nies from hir­ing. To address the prob­lem, these com­pa­nies take their new employ­ees through com­pre­hen­sive train­ing pro­grams that equip them with skills nec­es­sary to do the job. They choose grad­u­ates from a diverse set of majors and train them for var­i­ous jobs within the com­pany. This type of train­ing pays off – the com­pa­nies expe­ri­ence lower turnover and have highly skilled employ­ees, trained specif­i­cally for the job at hand.

Are you tak­ing steps to bridge the gap?

If your com­pany is one of the many that has a hard time fill­ing jobs and find­ing skilled employ­ees, it may be time to exam­ine how you adver­tise jobs, the type of train­ing you offer new employ­ees, and your ongo­ing train­ing pro­grams. Invest­ing in your employ­ees’ train­ing will not only add much-needed staff to your com­pany, it leads to lower turnover, higher worker sat­is­fac­tion, and more moti­vated employees.

The employ­ees are out there – are you doing your part to attract and train talent?

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Jodi Beuder
We help organizations create a positive connection between customers and brands. We promote synergy through integration as it builds on the decades of collective history of renowned expertise. MHI Global is your comprehensive source for customer-management excellence solutions to compete in today's ever-changing, customer-centric environment.


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