We’re facing a skills crisis in America. Nearly 15 million people in the U.S. want to work, but they can’t find jobs.
And at the same time, around half of employers say they have job vacancies, but they can’t find qualified candidates to fill them, according to a Harris Interactive Inc. poll for CareerBuilder. Among information technology and health care employers, the problem is even more pronounced. There’s a huge disconnect that can have a paralyzing effect on business and the economy.
Among companies with extended job vacancies of 12 weeks or longer, 34 percent reported a loss in revenue while others pointed to a lower quality of work, higher employee turnover and deficiencies in customer service, according to the poll.
This gap will only become more problematic in years to come. The skills for different occupations are evolving, often requiring college-educated labor for positions that were previously held by high school graduates. The number of high-skill jobs that will need to be filled by 2020 is equal to the populations of Chicago and Houston combined.
Jobs are growing at an accelerated rate in the STEM-related fields — science, technology, engineering and mathematics — and other areas, but degree completions and retraining efforts aren’t keeping pace. On top of this, despite falling unemployment, college grads age 22 to 27 are stuck in low-paying jobs and account for 40 percent of the unemployment rate. According to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, the percentage of young people with a bachelor’s degree languishing in low-skill, low-paying jobs is 44 percent, a 20-year high.
Bridging the skills gap and addressing chronic underemployment can have an exponentially positive effect on workers, businesses and the communities they serve. The most sustainable and thriving communities are those with good jobs. That’s why corporate America needs to take a more active role in cultivating the talents of today’s and tomorrow’s generations of workers. Here are three ways your organization can make a difference.