Maybe the Skills Gap Is Over-Stated

That’s the argument put forth in a recent post by Noemi Custodia-Lora, Lane A. Glenn and David R. Legg at the Newtalent England Journal of Higher Education.

One frequently cited source for employment figures is the Employment Trends Index, regularly compiled by the nonprofit Conference Board. A challenge to relying on information about job openings in the Index, however, is that the Conference Board relies on job postings for their report, not actual job openings—and yes, there is a difference.

Job postings may be counted more than once, and nearly half of those counted by the Conference Board in its reports over the last year have actually been part-time, temporary, or contract positions.

On top of that, many companies advertise “phantom” jobs—job openings that don’t really exist—to keep their name out in the public, particularly during lean economic times. As a result, the number of “unfilled” jobs cited by the Conference Board (and by those who rely on its research) is typically far less than reported.

So, it seems the skills gap has been exaggerated. The reality is that there are far fewer jobs going unfilled than have been reported, and that aligning skills with job openings isn’t going to be a simple fix. To turn this economy around and get more people employed, the focus must be on job creation—and perhaps on more creative solutions to filling real job openings. . . .

. . . . Just because employers can require a bachelor’s degree or higher for a particular job does not mean they have to. Very often, an associate degree can provide important hands-on skilled training—especially for entry level or “middle skill” jobs—that bachelor’s degrees don’t provide.

And, when an employer is able to hire an associate degree-holder for a job that may have previously required a bachelor’s degree, they may save some labor costs and look forward to workers staying in their positions longer as they pursue additional education and training and move up the ladder.

The full story is here.

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