5 Stats That Suggest On The Job Training Can Narrow The Skills Gap
The skills gap within the U.S. workforce is a very real problem for recruiters today, and many commentators find it easy to blame candidates themselves, or the schools that conferred their bachelor’s degrees. But if you dive a bit deeper into the problem, it becomes apparent that employers also share some responsibility, and can help reduce the disparities.
During and after the global financial crisis, employers faced a unique labor market. Job openings fell and unemployment rose, leading to a surplus of candidates. At the same time, poor economic conditions forced many businesses to make cuts, including on the job training and employee development programs. The expense of training new and existing employees, combined with the increasing likelihood of job hopping, convinced many employers that training programs were not worth their while.
Some employers have been able to hire candidates with the right skills, and avoid extensive training. But as the rising skills shortage has shown, competition for candidates that can be fully productive on day one is a growing problem for recruiters. CareerBuilder conducted a thorough nationwide survey of the skills gap, and their report, The Shocking Truth About The Skills Gap, highlights the issue of reduced on the job training. Based on responses from employers, academics, and job seekers, the report produced five figures regarding on the job training we think are worth examining.
1 – 53% of job seekers agreed a lack of on the job training contributed to the skills gap
This was the second most popular answer when asked: what is causing the skills gap? Education gaps in certain areas came in at 55%, and this is undoubtedly more widely reported in the media. But the fact that candidates recognize a lack of on the job training highlights the incredible importance of coordination between employers and educational institutions. If an employer can’t afford to offer training, it would be in their interest to ensure that degree programs include the kind of job-specific training their industry requires.
2 – Among employers in the survey, 49% said job-specific skills are in short supply
Nearly half of employers think candidates lack the precise skills they need for particular jobs, and more than half of job seekers acknowledge a skills shortage based on gaps in education and on the job training. Employees and employers are on the same page when it comes to the existence of the skills gap, but not its causes or solutions.
Only 24% of employers in the survey felt the skills shortage came from a lack of on the job training. How are future employees supposed to learn job specific skills if three quarters of their employers refuse to offer this training in the workplace? This figure is especially surprising when you consider the high priority Millennial job seekers have for employee growth and development.
3 – 35% of employers attributed the skills gap to job requirements with higher than entry-level requirements
This means that employers are advertising jobs which may be entry level, but they are requiring skills and experience above what a normal entry-level candidate would have. This rather obviously sounds like a problem employers created for themselves, especially since more than a third of them admit this disparity contributes to the skills gap.
4 – 33% of those employers say they’ll consider on the job training to help fill open positions
Employers undoubtedly recognize the lack of necessary skills among job candidates, but a majority of them don’t want to address the skills shortage themselves. Only 31% would even consider cross-training existing employees to build up their talent pipeline and fill gaps within their ranks. This is an idea more recruiters should be advocating, as existing employees who have been cross-trained can be promoted to higher roles. Then the HR team can advertise the promoted employees’ former job with more realistic entry-level requirements.
5 – 73% of academics in the survey felt companies with more on the job training would receive more applicants
Educators surely know that many employers blame them for the current skills shortage. But they understand there are some skills that can’t be taught in a classroom setting, and that not every school can offer the same type of, or quality of, workforce preparation. Many academic programs are beginning to include more job-specific skills in their curriculum. But employers can beat out their competitors and attract the best talent by offering more training themselves.
Some employers are making an effort to do just that. Healthcare company Allscripts partnered with a local nonprofit to create a training program for unemployed job seekers in the region. An intensive eight-week program led to full-time employment offers with Allscripts for every participant. Hu-Friedy, which manufactures dental instruments near Chicago, actually paid employees to leave their jobs for two years to learn new skills such as metal composition and heat-treating.
Economist Allison Schrager called the current skills shortage and lack of training, “an example of classic economic short-sightedness.” When the labor market favors employers, and economic conditions are tight, it makes sense from a business perspective to cut training programs. If recruiters can find one skilled worker among a sea of unprepared candidates, the issue of training those other workers becomes someone else’s problem.
The problem today is that too many employers have come to the same conclusion, and not enough skilled workers are available to fill open positions without training. It’s now up to employers to engage directly with candidates and schools, to communicate the skills they need, and find ways to develop those skills both in the classroom and on the job.
Interested in recruiting analytics and the future of big data in talent acquisition? Sign up for the Data Driven Recruiter blog.