Wanted: A Skills Gap Solution
The formula for career success was supposed to be simple: go to college, get a bachelor’s degree, and find a job doing what you love that pays a decent living.
As our newest generations of college graduates have discovered, the reality isn’t quite so simple. While more and more college educated employees are available, fewer employers want to hire them. Underemployment, that is, either working part time when you want to work full time, or working at a job that doesn’t utilize your education and training, is a persistent problem that has outlasted our recession-inspired unemployment. PayScale reports in a recent study  that 46% of American workers identify as underemployed.
The problem is caused by what’s known as the skills gap. Despite a large number of people who would like to find more or better work, industries that require skilled workers–but not necessarily the kind of education you get with a bachelor’s degree–are coming up short. The skills gap is most evident in STEM fields, or industries requiring the use of technology, including healthcare, computer science, and especially manufacturing. It’s difficult to find the right employees for these fields, observes the Harvard Business Review , because the technology is changing so quickly that many schools don’t offer the right training.
Soft skills, such as communication and teamwork, are in increasing demand by employers, but also aren’t offered in schools, particularly because they require one-on-one efforts with students. Employers, meanwhile, increasingly expect prospective employees to shoulder the burdens of training themselves, the US Department of Labor reports.  Yet prospective employees are reluctant to take on this training when the technology is changing so quickly that the skills required by one employer are unlikely to translate to the next job opening.
Jeff Selingo, author of New York Times bestseller “There is Life After College”, notes: “The goal of universal college has actually done more harm than good because it banished anything that smacks of job training to second class status.” He further writes: “We need more than just one pathway to good jobs in the U.S. What we need is a place like Harvard–both prestigious and rigorous–that will attract students who have talents and interests to pursue skilled jobs critical for the economy that don’t necessarily require a four-year college degree.”