If you’re concerned about the growing skills gap in the U.S., you’re far from alone: According to a recent CareerBuilder study, 2 in 3 employers are concerned about the growing skills gap in this country. Your fears aren’t unfounded, either. More than half of employers have seen a negative impact on business due to extended vacancies. In fact, it’s estimated that the skills gap costs companies nearly $1 million a year.
But just as tense as the search for skilled workers is the debate over who or what is to blame for the skills gap. Some say the gap is the result of a disconnect between employers and educators, leading to inadequate training; others assert that current wages aren’t enough to attract skilled talent to unfilled positions; while others point to job requirements being too narrowly defined.
Regardless of what’s causing the problem, companies around the country are actively working to be part of the solution. Through strategic partnerships with colleges and universities, community groups, youth organizations and government groups, these companies are doing their part to bring awareness, education and opportunities to untapped talent pools - and build a pipeline for the future.
Partnering with Colleges
In effort to ensure college graduates enter the workforce with job-ready skills, some companies are partnering with local colleges and universities. For example, Missouri-based Watlow, a company that designs and manufactures thermal systems, has partnered with a local technical college to recruit and train people on in-demand manufacturing industry skills. Over in Louisiana, IT service company DXC Technology has teamed up with local educators, including Louisiana State University, to create programs for technology education, and ongoing learning and development opportunities.
Other companies, meanwhile, are designing their own university-style programs - whether to upskill their current employees or help those in the community. Google, for example, recently launched Grow With Google, an initiative to help train Americans for jobs in tech. Meanwhile, Microsoft partnered with edX.org, a nonprofit online education program founded by Harvard University and MIT, to design a professional degree program that trains workers at any stage of their career with in-demand data science skills. Over at Airbnb, workers can enroll in Data University, the company’s own university-style learning program, which it designed to “make its entire workforce more data literate.”
Addressing the Gender Gap
It’s no secret that men far outnumber (and outearn) women in STEM professions, but companies such as GE, Uber, GM, Dell and Symantic are working to fix that - thanks to the help of Girls Who Code, a nonprofit that aims to inspire and empower young women to pursue careers in technology. Meanwhile, PepsiCo teamed up with the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) to launch the Student Engineering Challenge, an annual contest that encourages the next generation of female engineers to come up with creative technical ideas to solve real-life business challenges.
To make it easier for women to return to the workplace after maternity leave, companies such as Apple, Oracle, Intuit, GoDaddy and Udemy are enlisting the help of Path Forward. The nonprofit helps companies create paid “returnships” to reskill professionals who have been out of the workforce for two or more years.
Focusing on the future generation of the workforce, many companies are reaching out to local high schools, youth centers and community groups to bring awareness and education to the future generation of workers. Microsoft, for example, has partnered with City Year, Year Up, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, while United Technologies has a decades-long partnership with INROADS.
In addition to its Teen Tech Centers, which help teens explore and develop interests in technology, Best Buy created the Best Buy Community Foundation awards grants to organizations that inspire underserved youth to choose careers in technology and give them access to relevant training opportunities.
Over at CareerBuilder, we’ve launched Find Your Calling, a free national website to help students learn about the growing jobs and in-demand skills of the future, match them to their own interests and plan out their career paths.
Some companies are creating their own training programs to help workers get the skills they need - affordably - to keep up with changing workforce demands. JPMorgan Chase, for instance, is investing over $1.3 million to provide skills training for residents of Detroit and bolster the local economy.
Over in the retail industry, companies including Brooks Brothers, Target, Macy’s and The Home Depot have partnered with the NRF Foundation to create RISE Up, a training and credentialing program that both prepares workers for careers in the retail industry and helps companies train and advance existing employees.
For workers who want to re-enter the workforce after an extended absence, United Technologies created its Re-Empower program. In 2017, CareerBuilder partnered with Capella Learning Solutions in 2016 to create RightSkill, a free program that helps workers upskill and reskill for in-demand jobs within 60 days.
To help workers earn as they learn, both Illinois--based Advanced Machine & Engineering (AME) and Minnesota-based pipe maker Uponor North America offer apprenticeship programs that will help fill the over 3 million manufacturing jobs opening in the next 10 years.
When it comes to reskilling, AT&T is looking inward, with plans to invest more than a billion dollars to retrain 100,000 of its own workers for “radically new jobs” at its own company by the year 2020.
Tapping the Veteran Talent Pool
Several companies believe military veterans are key to filling the skills gap. In 2016, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos pledged to hire 25,000 veterans and military spouses by 2021, and last year, the online retailer launched an apprenticeship program to train veterans for technical roles.
Jaguar Land Rover and Audi have also started initiatives to hire more military veterans to address the shortage of automotive service industry technicians. Meanwhile, Wisconsin-based Rockwell Automation says it will train 1,000 veterans per year for careers in advanced manufacturing, and cyber security services provider Fortinet created FortiVet, a program to help military veterans transition into the cyber security industry.
See what else employers are doing: Check out Employers Resolve to Fill the Skills Gap in 2018