Closing the Skills Gap with Cross-Sector Collaboration

Special Focus : Who Should Solve the Skills Gap?
Life Skills October 26, 2015

In an era where the only certainty is uncertainty, talent is the key for success. Nevertheless, we face a great paradox. On one side, there are people searching for jobs; and on the other side, companies cannot find the right candidates with the right skills. 

According to the ManpowerGroup Talent Shortage Survey 2015, globally, 38% of employers are struggling to fill jobs. While there is an oversaturation of careers, the most required fields are not attractive to the youth. 

The technological revolution is speeding the world. Consequently, the procedures are modified, several functions disappear but new skills and abilities are required. Some positions emerge as the most demanded; even when they didn’t exist just a few years ago. 

Having degrees, certificates, hard skills or technical knowledge is no longer enough to ensure success. Soft skills and transversal capabilities are needed. That is why investments in education, training, re-training, and development are essential. 

While it is true that, in order to drive competitiveness and productivity, government entities can leverage public policies aimed at improving the quality of education and training programs, it is also necessary that companies, schools, public organizations and individuals work together in a collaborative cycle. 

Educational institutions must have a dialogue with the business sector to adapt their learning programs to the labor market’s needs. According to a McKinsey survey, in average, 70% of educational institutions believe their newly graduates are adequately prepared for their first job, compared with 41% of employers of think the same about recently graduated professionals. It is not surprising that companies would pay an extra 22% for the right talent. Current learning programs do not focus on the capabilities required nowadays, such as English proficiency, problem solving, teamwork, and leadership, among others. Young people are not encouraged to study professions in demand, like technical careers and engineering. 

According to ManpowerGroup’s study “#YoEmprendedor”, more than half of the young adults that apply for a job offer are turned down by the company they applied to. The main reason is lack of experience (46%), followed by lack of knowledge (10%), and age (5%). Waiting for graduation before joining the workforce is an antiquated practice. Promoting learning programs and professional internships is crucial for young people to acquire the experience that will make them more competitive. 

Organizations must invest in training, coaching, and mentoring programs in order to support their talent base. According to ManpowerGroup’s study “Take advantage of Talent through Training”, in America, 52% of companies do not offer formal training programs, which are key if they want to innovate and evolve at the same rhythm that the market demands. Learning to learn and learning to unlearn must be a constant in answering four basic questions: 

1. What are the skills and capabilities acquired up to now? 

2. Which ones are necessary for the job? 

3. Are the time and resources to learn available? 

4. Is there a motivation to do it?