Bridging the Skills Gap | DCR Workforce Blog

Bridging the Skills Gap

As the world is slowly coming to terms with the fact that Steve Jobs is no more, it is his legacy and wisdom that must be imbibed by those of us who admire his incredible ability to simplify the toughest of tasks and innovate. Among them is what he has said about finding work – “Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do…. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.”

That is definitely very sensible advice for the job seekers but what about the jobs that need to get filled but do not have any one competent enough to fill them? As education is becoming more and more specialized, demanding and time-consuming, the gap between the need and the availability of trained graduates is widening and leaving many jobs unfilled. The situation is more daunting when it comes to science, engineering and technology subjects. The reasons for this are myriad and do not call for any vitriolic attributions of guilt to any single entity or action, as it serves no real purpose anyway. We must accept that the current situation is a result of many combined factors including corporate profiteering, student apathy and hedonistic tendencies, regulatory mismanagement and free trade among others.

Technology jobs in the USA today are filled by the influx of skilled workers from other parts of the world and the companies cannot really be blamed for choosing them instead of picking up local candidates and trying to train them and develop them into suitable employees by closing the skills gap – which is defined as the difference between the skills required to deliver on the job against the actual skills possessed by the candidate. Where the gap is really narrow – the candidate may be considered job ready.

All job seekers need to focus on honing their skills in a two-pronged effort and target two types of skills:

Occupational and technical skills: These are job specific and are peculiar to the role and duties as when a surgeon needs to train before performing operations while a pharmacist needs to train before dispensing medicines.

Employability Skills: These are generic in nature and are necessary for any kind of job, irrespective of job level and industry type. These are a combination of behavioral and attitudinal skills, like social skills, team spirit and ability to think creatively, make decisions and being effective and accountable, which are needed for a person to get a job and deliver on that job. Employers also seek the manifestation of different attributes like courtesy, respect, integrity, punctuality, ethics, effective group behavior, motivation and self-awareness in the employees. It is, of course, never enough to have a Pollyanna-like positive outlook without the ability to bring that to the job and the group within which a person is working.

It is an accepted fact that the employees who showcase a combination of technical knowledge and the superior employability skills will be considered as valued players by any employer. They get all the necessary support, grooming and further training to fit them for higher positions of responsibility so that they grow further. So, the question remains as to why some people have these skills while others lack them. Educationists are of the confirmed belief that these skills can be taught and people can be molded. The general idea is that these need to be taught at home, school and on the job – but that is extremely detrimental to have anyone graduate high school without these qualities.

Having been an educationist myself, I recognize the role of the horse – which has been led to the water – in achieving the actual task of drinking. Extending the metaphor, let all those who need to hone their employability skills just start working on them,  knowing full well that these are learned and do not come as an inheritance at birth.

The content on this blog is for informational purposes only and cannot be construed as specific legal advice or as a substitute for competent legal advice. They reflect the opinions of DCR Workforce and may not reflect the opinions of any individual attorney. Do contact an attorney for advice specific to your issue or problem.
Lalita is a people/project manager with extensive experience in operations, HCM and training and development across industries like banking, education, business consulting, BPO and information technology. She believes in a dynamic approach to life and learning as change is the only constant.