Opinion
Education Opinion

What Does The “Skills Gap” Mean For Educators?

By Emily Douglas-McNab — December 06, 2012 4 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Marc Tucker, president of the National Center on Education and the Economy and author of the ‘Top Performers’ blog on Education Week, recently wrote a post in response to a 60 Minutes segment called, “Three million jobs in U.S., but who’s qualified?” It reminded me of a survey conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and Achieve that provides specific information on the future of the U.S. workforce.

SHRM and Achieve surveyed more than 4,600 HR professionals this past spring from nine industries, including government; construction, mining, oil, and gas; healthcare; high tech; nonprofessional services; professional services; finance; and manufacturing. The findings were published in an October report, “The Future of the U.S. Workforce: A Survey of Hiring Practices across Industries.”

The report explains that even with today’s high unemployment numbers, employers are having a difficult time finding skilled and qualified workers for more than 3 million open jobs. SHRM and Achieve note, “There is much speculation about why this may be the case, but no matter the reason, the fact is employers are searching for employees with more training and skills than ever before--a trend that human resource (HR) professionals expect will continue in the future. This trend makes it incumbent on the United States to ensure that future generations have the academic and technical foundation needed to succeed in tomorrow’s economy and to mind that skills gap.”

The report’s major findings include:
1. “Companies are hiring. Every industry was hiring in 2011, with more than 95 percent of respondents saying they had open positions in 2011. Most job openings required a high school diploma (36 percent on average) or a bachelor’s degree (36 percent on average).”
2. “Demand is growing for more education and skills at all levels. At the same time, all industries are projecting that future jobs will require more skills, education, and credentials at all levels, with some variations based on the industry and current levels of education required.”
3. “Companies are investing in training for their employees. Most respondents report that their organizations’ training takes place on site (81 percent), but a significant portion say it takes place on a college campus, be it a technical or community college (44 percent) or university campus (41 percent).”
4. “Opportunities exist for low skills workers, but there is reason to suspect that these opportunities will shrink in the future. More than 80 percent of respondents say their organizations offer advancement opportunities for low skills workers, mostly lateral or one-step promotions, with more than a third of respondents saying promotion pathways are endless for low skills workers with the right work ethic and attitude. The data, however, suggest that opportunities for advancement for low skills workers are more limited than respondents believe; more than 80 percent of respondents acknowledge that they hire employees with education credentials above a high school diploma for jobs that -- as posted -- require only a high school diploma.”

Jennifer Schramm, manager of workplace trends and forecasting at SHRM and GPHR, says, “Today’s tough job market means that many individuals are currently in jobs for which they have educational qualifications beyond those required for the position. But this may not be the case down the line - education requirements are climbing for jobs across the board.”

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net user Ian Khan

What does this mean for future workers?
• 21 percent of respondents noted that administrative assistants will need at minimum an associate’s degree, while 11 percent said they will need post-secondary certificate.
• 71 percent of respondents indicated that salaried, professional positions will require a bachelor’s degree.
• 31 percent of respondents noted that skilled laborers, such as mechanics, technicians, and foremen, will need a specific post-secondary certificate or credentials.

What does this mean for educators?
Senior Vice President of Strategic Initiatives for Achieve, Sandy Boyd, says, “This survey reinforces the importance of having strong K-12 and postsecondary education systems that provide all students with the knowledge and skills they need to access and succeed in the careers of their choice. It’s clear that the world has changed and employers are demanding more education and skills from employees than ever before. All students deserve a meaningful and rigorous academic experience that will prepare them for college, careers, and life.”

Readers: Do these statics alarm you? Are you surprised to know that there are jobs open but no one to fill the positions? Please share your thoughts, comments, and opinions in the comments section below.

For full survey results you can visit: //www.shrm.org/Research/SurveyFindings/Articles/Pages/ChangingEmployee-Skills-Education.aspx

The opinions expressed in K-12 Talent Manager are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.


Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Teaching Webinar
What’s Next for Teaching and Learning? Key Trends for the New School Year
The past 18 months changed the face of education forever, leaving teachers, students, and families to adapt to unprecedented challenges in teaching and learning. As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Curriculum Webinar
How Data and Digital Curriculum Can Drive Personalized Instruction
As we return from an abnormal year, it’s an educator’s top priority to make sure the lessons learned under adversity positively impact students during the new school year. Digital curriculum has emerged from the pandemic
Content provided by Kiddom
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Equity & Diversity Webinar
Leadership for Racial Equity in Schools and Beyond
While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to reveal systemic racial disparities in educational opportunity, there are revelations to which we can and must respond. Through conscientious efforts, using an intentional focus on race, school leaders can
Content provided by Corwin

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Judge's Temporary Order Allows Iowa Schools to Mandate Masks
A federal judge ordered the state to immediately halt enforcement of a law that prevents school boards from ordering masks to be worn.
4 min read
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds speaks to reporters following a news conference, Thursday, Aug. 19, 2021, in West Des Moines, Iowa. Reynolds lashed out at President Joe Biden Thursday after he ordered his education secretary to explore possible legal action against states that have blocked school mask mandates and other public health measures meant to protect students against COVID-19. Reynolds, a Republican, has signed a bill into law that prohibits school officials from requiring masks, raising concerns as delta variant virus cases climb across the state and schools resume classes soon. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Education Hurricane Ida Deals New Blow to Louisiana Schools Struggling to Reopen
The opening of the school year offered teachers a chance to fully assess the pandemic's effects, only to have students forced out again.
8 min read
Six-year-old Mary-Louise Lacobon sits on a fallen tree beside the remnants of her family's home destroyed by Hurricane Ida, in Dulac, La., on Sept. 4, 2021. Louisiana students, who were back in class after a year and a half of COVID-19 disruptions kept many of them at home, are now missing school again after Hurricane Ida. A quarter-million public school students statewide have no school to report to, though top educators are promising a return is, at most, weeks away, not months.
Six-year-old Mary-Louise Lacobon sits on a fallen tree beside the remnants of her family's home destroyed by Hurricane Ida, in Dulac, La., on Sept. 4, 2021.
John Locher/AP
Education Massachusetts National Guard to Help With Busing Students to School
250 guard personnel will be available to serve as drivers of school transport vans, as districts nationwide struggle to hire enough drivers.
1 min read
Massachusetts National Guard soldiers help with logistics in this Friday, April 17, 2020 file photo, at a food distribution site outside City Hall, in Chelsea, Mass. Mass. Gov. Charlie Baker on Monday, Sept. 13, 2021, activated the state's National Guard to help with busing students to school as districts across the country struggle to hire enough drivers.
Massachusetts National Guard soldiers help with logistics in this Friday, April 17, 2020 file photo, at a food distribution site outside City Hall, in Chelsea, Mass.
Michael Dwyer/AP
Education FDA: ‘Very, Very Hopeful’ COVID Shots Will Be Ready for Younger Kids This Year
Dr. Peter Marks said he is hopeful that COVID-19 vaccinations for 5- to 11-year-olds will be underway by year’s end. Maybe sooner.
4 min read
Dr. Peter Marks, director of the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research in the Food and Drug Administration, testifies during a Senate health, education, labor, and pensions hearing to examine an update from federal officials on efforts to combat COVID-19 on Capitol Hill in Washington on May 11, 2021. On Friday, Sept. 10, 2021, Marks urged parents to be patient, saying the agency will rapidly evaluate vaccines for 5- to 11-year-olds as soon as it gets the needed data.
Dr. Peter Marks, director of the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research in the Food and Drug Administration, testifies during a Senate health, education, labor, and pensions hearing to examine an update from federal officials on efforts to combat COVID-19 on Capitol Hill in Washington on May 11, 2021.
Jim Lo Scalzo/AP