Sustained economic growth and development is often considered the antidote for unemployment – but the spate of conventional job cuts and the large number of positions lying vacant in the job market over the past few years have been unprecedented in history.
Key indicators have pointed out that the economic outlook for the US is in good health. In fact, 2018 has seen the dollar surge ahead of most global currencies. The biggest factor is usually the GDP, which has been steady throughout the year. This has been in continuation to the post- recession growth for almost eight and a half years. Is this a cause for worry? Some economists fear a recession is overdue, others predict that the growth is likely to continue over the next few years. The variable misaligned to this growth is the rate of unemployment not rising proportionately.
Although unemployment is currently the lowest it’s been in over three decades, skill development in the sectors that have been the drivers of growth has hardly kept up. In fact, vacancies in several job functions including analytics, machine learning, engineering, design, cyber security and cloud computing have remained unfulfilled. In these sectors, job openings exceed availability of skilled professionals by factors ranging between 4-10 times, according to LinkedIn data.
A projection by the Bureau of Labor Statistics validates this finding. Between 2016 and 2026, 11.5 million jobs will be created while the qualified workforce to fill them will stand at 10.5 million. That’s a shortfall of a million workers!
A closer look at the overall job postings show that the primary gap is in technical and soft skills. According to a recent Bloomberg study, only 35% of employers feel that college graduates are employment ready. Similarly, 40% of employers have initiated their own job orientation programs to prepare candidates to fill in the large skill gap that they encounter.
The shortfall in technical and soft skills, especially among millennials and post millennials, has been a matter of speculation for quite some time. If unemployment numbers are anything to go by, the gap will widen with time as more countries join the race to hire the best talent in technology and services. Experts across the board believe that standardized skill validation is the ideal complement to the learning and development programs that employers and universities are developing. A large number of business leaders are already treating certifications as a core component. This places learning and development parallel to existing retention strategies. As American business leaders are increasingly investing in workforce learning and organizational development, they are looking at professional credentialing, especially in sectors that require specialized skill sets, to maximize their business growth and minimize skill turnover. The business certification industry in the US is already at $3 billion as of 2018, and is likely to surge on this wave.