Cheif Learning Officer Solutions for Enterprise Productivity

Bridging the Skills Gap: Solutions that Work

 -  6/27/12

Individuals need jobs. Employers need skilled workers. Educational institutions are committed to preparing workers for careers. But far too often, a lack of common language and widely understood metrics spell failure.

Endless political discussions on job creation overlook the fact that employers say they’re unable to fill hundreds of thousands of jobs. One contributing factor is a major disconnect between educational institutions and the nation’s employers. Business leaders continue to ask educators to send them better workers, but both parties struggle to define what better means. At the same time, educational institutions are committed to innovation, but in many cases their efforts do not align with the business needs of the regions they serve.

To bridge this chasm, suppliers and consumers of talent need a common set of metrics enabling both to measure workplace skills and behaviors.

There are challenges: the diversity of academic credentials makes them difficult to compare, and more job seekers and career changers are approaching the workplace with a wide variety of educational and experiential backgrounds. Innovative responses to these challenges are emerging across the nation and many show promise. Here are a few.

Right Skills Now: This is a fast-tracked, for-credit career training program designed to give participants access to stackable post-secondary credentials recognized by industry. In Minnesota, a Right Skills Now pilot is focusing on machining skills for manufacturing. Created through a partnership involving The Manufacturing Institute, ACT, the National Institute of Metalworking Skills, and the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, the 16-week program integrates the specific needs of the region’s employers with the talent and energy of its community and technical colleges.

Darlene Miller, CEO of Permac Industries in Burnsville, Minnesota, is a member of the President’s Council. She helped establish the pilot project as a pathway to solving the skills gap she has observed for years. “This program will bring us people who have a skill set we understand,” she said. “It will lower our turnover, reduce our training time and expense, and help keep manufacturing in America.”

There are some initial results to report: In Minnesota, 34 employers have committed to or are already providing internships for Right Skills Now students from Dunwoody College and South Central College, and 100 percent of the students completing their training have been placed in paid internships. At Western Nevada College in Reno, 83 percent of the Right Skills Now trainees who completed their internship on May 15 are employed full-time by the companies they interned at.

Article Keywords:   education   training   skills  


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