005. The Skills Gap

At the outset of 2016, America has a near record 5.6 million job openings. However, 8.3 million Americans remain out of work. One of the primary factors preventing these jobs from being filled is known as the “Skills Gap.” 

The skills gap is the difference between an organization’s skill need and the current capabilities of the workforce. While education efforts have attempted to shift to meet this growing demand, recent reports show that this problem is only growing.

The skills gap is a complex issue, with lots of disagreement about causes and solutions. The United States Department of Labor list the following as the top reasons for the emergence of the skill gap: Not enough of the right graduates. For in-demand jobs in health care, engineering, computer science, and advanced manufacturing, there aren't enough people being trained.

Every year the Manpower Group, a human resources consultancy, conducts a worldwide “Talent Shortage Survey.” Last year, 35% of 38,000 employers reported difficulty filling jobs due to lack of available talent; in the U.S., 39% of employers did. This outlines a serious problem facing the competitive job markets. If companies are unable to fill their talent pool with qualified applicants, they will not be able to operate at peak efficiency and have to devote more resources to onboarding untrained staff.

Some economists argue that there is no shortage of employees with the basic skills in reading, writing and math to meet the requirements of today’s jobs. But those aren’t the skills in short supply. If it is not these basic skills than what is the skill set lacking in the professional work force? In a recent survey conducted by Adecco Staffing US polling managers in the work place, Ninety-two percent of them said there's a job skills gap. And of that overwhelming majority, nearly half believed the gap was in "soft skills"—communication, critical thinking, creativity and collaboration. Soft skills generally mean the social skills that are developed to help communicate effectively in the office space. These skills are often characterized as; public speaking, communication, social etiquette, group dynamics, and ability to work on a team. 

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The skills gap has been an ongoing subject of controversy. The idea is that while unemployment is high, many jobs remain unfilled because American workers don't have the skills to fill them. Critics dispute this idea, arguing that if corporate America simply upped the pay scale, and stopped trying to import cheap foreign labor through various visa programs, those jobs would be filled.

What role can Librii play in combating this gap? Two significant factors that operate on the workforce are 1) turnover and 2) a constantly changing skill set. Librii can adjust its programming rapidly and on an individual basis to pair users with skills needed in the marketplace at any given moment. 

As cited above, the main set of skills that are lacking in the field are “soft skills,” which we have discussed previously. Beyond social skills, Librii is well positioned to help with development of an individual's technical skills. By engaging the users with mentors and facilitating team work, we can assist users to quickly develop skills that employers see as desirable.

While Librii is passionate about creating cultural content, we recognize and feel compelled to help our users advance their careers. Work confers dignity, and doing our part to help close the skills gap can contribute to uplifting an individual's life, strengthen local communities, and have a positive effect on economy.

By Albert DeGarmo, Librii Development Specialist