“The skills gap is real. To this statement there is little debate. What should generate great debate is how we close the skills gap, because the strategies currently employed ignore a pool of talent that would go a long way to solving this crisis.
In Silicon Valley, the skills gap has created a war for talent, but the war is not limited to the Valley. It is felt across the country, in every region and across every sector. PwC recently released its annual CEO survey, which identified the “availability of key skills” as among the top four business threats to future growth. They are right to be worried. Despite 11.8 million people looking for jobs, there are 3.8 million jobs currently open as of this writing, and the situation is only expected to get worse. By some estimates, the United States will face a shortage of at least 14 million skilled workers by 2020.
Ironically, this gap exists, in large part, because we haven’t defined key skills correctly. If you think about your best employees, aren’t they the ones who work the hardest and who persevere through difficult times? Their technical skills are important, but don’t those technical skills quickly become a threshold issue, a minimum requirement? Ask any hiring manager what they are looking for in an ideal candidate, and you will quickly hear words like grit, determination, motivation, persistence, adaptability and hard work, characteristics often described as “non-cognitive” skills by academics like the Nobel Prize winner James Heckman. Ask those same hiring managers how they source and identify such characteristics and you get…nothing…”
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