Workforce Development Can No Longer Only Happen on the Job. America Needs to Start Training the Next Generation Early.
America is suffering from a labor shortage brought on by a skills gap, or a shortage of qualified workers for specific jobs. We know employers are searching for employees as the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in April 2019, that there are 7.4 million job openings across the nation. Employers, however, cannot fill these openings due to the lack of candidates who have the right training, knowledge, education, or skills. Americans need to start asking how we can combat this workforce development problem.
The skills gap is prevalent in a few big industries including construction at 404,000 job openings, manufacturing at 501,000 job openings; and trade, transportation, and utilities at 1,469,000 job openings. To begin filling these job openings and providing people with respectable, stable careers, Sivad is aiming to help break the stigma of blue-collar jobs and help train people early and often for professional and needed careers.
Break the Stigma
“Blue collar” is a term traditionally reserved for workers who work with their hands or perform manual labor. Americans have looked down on blue-collar workers for many years now, however, blue-collar jobs are stable and financially supportive of a family life. In addition, the blue-collar industries have made great strides in advancement as technology in artificial intelligence, automation, and equipment has grown faster than ever. These types of jobs now require education and knowledge previously thought only to be required for “white-collar” jobs.
Industries have been seeking out more blue-collar workers than white-collar workers since 2008 according to Conference Board, a business leader society that addresses problems in the workforce. These stable, fulfilling jobs are empty and waiting for qualified workers to fill them. As America becomes more polarized to vocational education, these jobs are being left unfilled and people are left without a job. With more education in industry-based jobs, the economy can continue to thrive and the younger generation can achieve the American dream.
Begin Training Early
According to American College Testing (ACT), nearly 40 percent of students are not prepared for college and 74 percent are not workforce ready by the time they graduate high school. College graduates have even stated that they wanted classes to help build their career skills. Building careers skills, however, should not wait until students reach secondary or post-secondary education.
The Coalition for Career Development suggests that career-education should start as early as elementary school and proceed as students develop through their schooling. Students who begin learning career skills at an early age will have better direction in their career paths and be better prepared to pursue their career plans once they graduate from high school.
Use Blended Learning Techniques
In addition to beginning early education in career-based skills, educators should be ensuring students are engaged in their learning with hands-on, industry-based training. The time of lecture-based teaching being the sole avenue for education has ended. With the seven types of learning (aural, visual, logical, verbal, physical, social, and solitary) and advancement in technology, educators should be teaching students in various ways to increase engagement and knowledge retention.
At Sivad, we encourage a blended approach to learning and incorporate traditional lecture and text book-based learning with innovative learning methods, including simulation training, e-learning, and hands-on experience. Students are able to engage better and work with actual programs and equipment that they would be using in their careers.
Instate Dedicated Workforce Development Sectors within Schools
Making career and workforce development a priority in early schooling is also an important factor in better preparing students for the workforce. A sector within the schools dedicated solely to career development would ensure that students and their families, as well as employers, are all working together toward a brighter future. This sector of the school of qualified individuals would ensure that the institution is integrating appropriate, in-demand, and student-tailored learning experiences to each individual. Students would benefit in being prepared to transition to jobs they are interested in, and employers would benefit in gaining skilled workers to fill open positions.
While early education can help close how large the skills gap is, it can be bridged even more if companies incorporate apprenticeship or internship programs. These programs would focus on training beginner employees on the skills needed at a specific job. IBM in Baton Rouge is incorporating this philosophy into their industry by hiring apprentices and providing them with paid, on-the-job training under the supervision of an experienced IBM employee. IBM is filling their open positions while also offering workers a viable career opportunity with their workforce development program.
There are many ways America can begin preparing the next workforce for their careers. At Sivad, we believe that this universal problem can be corrected with early education of in-demand jobs that are lucrative and rewarding. For more information on workforce training, or to begin helping students at your educational institution, call Sivad today at 800-274-2194.