HR leaders call for stronger education, employer connections
- America's employers are looking for solutions to the current skills gap, Johnny Taylor, CEO and president of the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM), noted in an online broadcast last week. "America's skills gap crisis is one of the greatest threats to our nation's long-term economic prosperity," he said.
- Taylor called for solutions to fix the pipeline between educational institutions and employers, including those that emphasize continuous learning.
- Low unemployment and other positive economic metrics, "do not tell the full story of the transformational change taking place within the labor market and in our workplaces," Taylor said, which has also made it more difficult to find quality talent.
The world's largest HR association has been vocal in encouraging stakeholders to tackle the skills gap in recent months, even deciding to join a White House initiative to increase training opportunities such as apprenticeships. Taylor had previously called on employers to rethink their strategies around finding scarce skilled talent, specifically suggesting they partner with educational institutions to ensure adequate training.
Job training has long been a clarion call for those in the HR field as studies attempt to pinpoint how many positions will be lost to automation and other tech advancements. The latest data from the World Economic Forum (WEF), for example, shows the training costs for an estimated 1.4 million displaced U.S. workers could total $34 billion or more, a number it said employers would not be able to cover on their own. Employers could ease their burden by partnering with public-sector entities, namely government, WEF suggests.
Even as automation ramps up heading into the next decade, the dynamics may not be as straightforward as predictions have led observers to believe. ManpowerGroup's research has found automation prompts businesses to hire more human workers, not fewer. And while unemployment increased slightly in January, thousands of jobs remain open. Strong hiring markets tend to be indicators of a healthy economy, according to some economists. But The Wall Street Journal reported that small businesses are scaling back their hiring plans for a number of reasons, including post-shutdown effects, slowing sales, tariffs and a lack of confidence in the economy.
Meanwhile, higher ed is working more closely with employers to help address skills needs to fill that gap. Tech employers like Google and Amazon have developed curriculum that is being offered in community colleges and online. The private sector and higher ed are also looking more closely at non-degree certifications to help students gain credentials with job market value while they complete their degrees or in lieu of them. Increasing investment in community colleges has also been put forth as a way to address workforce skills needs.