The Skills Gap has been on the minds of manufacturers for years. Every year, we’re told, more qualified industrial workers retire and fewer graduate. Young Americans don’t choose to work in factories — and if they wanted to, they’d be hampered in modern factories by their lack of training in math, science, engineering, and technology.
A while back we took the position that educators and industry would have to work together, probably with government support, to solve the problem. The Harvard Business Review agreed that the skills gap existed — some observers claimed that it was employers “whining” or at least trying to get the government to pay for training that they should have been supplying — and that it would take cooperation to fix the problem, but also felt that higher wages would be required to persuade Americans to gain the skills employers need.
So is the Skills Gap improving?
Industry Week is reporting on an interesting study called the Strayer@Work Skills Index. Past studies tended to rely on reports from employers about whether or they not they were having trouble finding qualified workers, and data on the number of Americans graduating in specific fields. The Strayer Index took a different approach.
They analyzed LinkedIn profiles looking for both supply — people claiming they had skills, and having endorsements confirming the claim — and demand in the form of job ads and recruiter messages.
In manufacturing, they concluded, these were the high-demand skills which were also in short supply:
- Cross-functional Team Leadership
- Critical Thinking
Not specifically science, math, engineering, and technology. But still a gap.
We’d like to think that this shows that students are in fact learning more STEM skills in school, that apprenticeship programs like Rexroth’s are making a difference, and that Americans are pretty good at math and science now, and just need to polish up their creativity.
Is that how it looks at your facility?