What America’s Skills Gap Means to You

The United States is falling behind. The skills needed to compete are not being developed fast enough. That’s bad news for our country, but an opportunity for you. Learning that leads to needed skills can give you a significant advantage when it comes to jobs, a career and good pay.

Buzz Today Source: The New York Times: U.S. Adults Fare Poorly in a Study of Skills An OECD study, perhaps the most detailed of its kind, shows that the well-documented pattern of several other countries surging past the United States in students’ test scores and young people’s college graduation rates corresponds to a skills gap, extending far beyond school. In the United States, young adults, in particular, fare poorly compared with their international competitors of the same ages — not just in math and technology, but also in literacy.

It is important that our leaders understand and address the bad news shown here in BUZZ Today. But there is another side to this information that is very important to you as an individual. As reluctant as companies are to hire these days, they will eventually have to find the skills needed to compete in the global economy. Your opportunity is to have those skills when the hiring inevitably picks up. And when, exactly will that be? Soon. The Baby Boomers are leaving the work force at the rate of 10,000 per day. They have the skills. Companies will need to replace those skills.

The OECD study identifies the source of the challenge. “The technological revolution that began in the last decades of the 20th century has affected nearly every aspect of life in the 21st: from how we “talk” with our friends and loved ones, to how we shop, to how and where we work. Quicker and more efficient transportation and communication services have made it easier for people, goods, services and capital to move around the world, leading to the globalization of economies. These social and economic transformations have, in turn, changed the demand for skills as well.”

One of things you need to know is exactly what skills are we talking about here? The specific skills most required, as identified by OECD, include: Skills in literacy, facility with basic math or numeracy and problem-solving in technology rich environments using digital devices to find and evaluate information, communicate and perform tasks.

Unfortunately the debate professors and education policy decision makers are having about higher education are not about you.  Though these debates are heated and intense, they do not help you, as an individual, make the choices you need to take advantage of this personal opportunity. For you, this is not about liberal arts vs. STEM or an associate degree vs. a bachelor’s degree. And it certainly is not about whether you sit in a class room and listen to a lecture or study online on your computer. And it is not about whether you attend a state university or a highly selective private university. This is about what you learn. You need a road map to guide you.

The OECD study further shows the relationship between learning and the acquisition of the needed skills. You need to be learning to compete. Guidance for how to do that is clearly documented in Your Future is Calling. Read it.

The final thing we need to explore here, is the relationship between the facts here and job opportunities in the future. It is a simple fact of economics that when demand is high and supply is limited, the price goes up. Salaries are the prices in the market for skills. Companies are going to have to pay to get the skills they will need. Your opportunity is to invest in your skills to be positioned to take advantage of this inevitable market opportunity. GO FOR IT!

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