Special Reports

The Skills Gap is A Reality ; Is College Education Not Enough?


The debate whether the skills gap is real or not has been a heated and complex one. However, a lot of data and studies have provided evidence that there is indeed a skills gap and there is a big discrepancy between what employers need and the training students get in the classroom. Simply put, students are not learning the skills they need that will give them an edge after graduation.

In a survey conducted by the human resource consultancy Manpower Group, 35 percent of the 38,000 employers that participated revealed that they have difficulty finding the candidate with the right talent set to fill a certain job position. There are many graduates but there is a lack of talent.

Many blame persistent unemployment for the existence of skills gap. Such allegations, however, are unfounded. So what really causes this shortage of skills that leave employers frustrated and a lot of people unemployed?

North Carolina 5th District representative Virginia Fox wrote in an article on The Hill recommends that "we need to shift our perspective away from the idea that every student must attend a four-year program to succeed."

With this point in mind, she said that the discrimination placed on people who decide to pursue a technical or career education should be eliminated. More often than not, people refer to such courses as the alternative for those who doesn't have the academic skills to pursue a four-year course.

"Educational success is about more than just a degree. It's about preparing students for a satisfying life and teaching them the quantifiable skills that employers need in their employees," representative Fox said.
Another reason why the skills gap exists is that job positions today use dynamic technology that is quickly changing. Then, new technology also emerges requiring new skills set that are not taught in schools.

Take for example graphic designers who were originally trained to design for print. However, the Internet became an essential part of modern society and companies shifted their focus, which created a strong demand for web design professionals. Then came smartphones and mobile app designers are needed.
With new demands growing, design schools have a hard time keeping up. The instruction offered at school becomes irrelevant and obsolete. What employers do, then, is hire employees based on experience. However, a person's experience might be different from what the current employer needs so basing it on experience alone brings a new set of problems.

In order to solve or alleviate this growing problem, there should be a partnership between employers and community colleges to set up certification programs for new skills. For it to happen, lawmakers should create policies that encourage such partnerships. Then, and only then can the skills gap problem be addressed.

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