Career – Re-skilling

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Where did the manufacturing and service jobs go? India, China, and other low cost-of-living countries. We are starting to see a trend in these jobs coming back to the US. However, there is a disconnect. Our workforce is not skilled the way it was before these jobs left.

Companies like Caterpiller, Dow Chemical, BMW, and Whirlpool are bringing their manufacturing back to the US. This is due to lower labor costs, higher product quality, ease of doing business, and proximity to customers.

This trend has created a renaissance in “re-skilling”. There is a growing increase in basic skill development here in the US.

Did you know that in 2011, corporate training budgets actually jumped 9.5%? That’s the largest annual growth in a decade.

Part of the problem the US economy is having is not specifically a lack of jobs. It is a lack of skilled employees for the jobs that are available. 58% of employers cited this as one of the top three reasons for not filling a key position. This is one of the top risks that businesses face today.

Why is there a huge skill gap? What happened? Three things created a perfect storm:

  1.  In general, the workforce is younger – more than 50% are in their mid 30’s or younger. That leads to less years of experience, thus lower experience levels in the available workforce.
  2. Continued high unemployment has started killing existing skills. People lose their “edge” when they are not using their existing skills for more than a year.
  3. Our university and public school systems have focused on teaching to the test. Our student base is losing communication skills, project management skills, and teamwork skills. They sport good grades, but companies need to develop the skill sets they need in their employees.

Another issue is that during the economic downturn, training groups have been cut deeply. Overall training budgets were cut drastically. This de-investment is now showing itself.

Welcome to the golden era for training and development! Companies are starting up corporate universities that focus on re-investing in the skills of their employees. We are seeing leadership and culture programs taking hold. We are also seeing virtual delivery of content rather than in-person training, as well as blending of formal and on-the job experience. This is creating efficiencies in the workforce, and enhancing bottom lines.

Expect to see the US take a new lead in the world economy over the next few years because of this shift.

What do you think? Are you involved in this re-skilling? Have you been re-skilled?

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