Skills Will Pave the Way for the Fourth Industrial Revolution

May 15, 2019

2018, a year of economic upheaval, brought to the table has never seen hurdles of AI, machine learning and data management. The year was also marked by a widening talent gap. The number of unfilled vacancies spiked to stratosphere and organizations got hard pressed to prepare themselves for the future shock. Reviewing existing education, training and development systems became the name of the game.

We may feel a propensity to blame skill shortage on technology, economy, kismet, Gods and devils but the truth spiels we saw it coming. We saw it coming but we were ill-equipped to deal with it. We buried our heads in the sands and waited for the storm to pass or somehow contain itself up. But the tempest is far from passing and we are left with no option but lift our heads and look at this blizzard in the eye. Before it washes all up.

Measuring the Extent of the Damage:

In 2012, a McKinsey report titled The world at work: Jobs, pay, and skills for 3.5 billion people predicted a shortage of 38 to 40 million workers in 2020. Out of this 13% were high-skilled workers, 15% middle-skilled workers and 10% low-skilled workers.

In December 2018, in the US, 7 million jobs were open and only 6.3 million people were available to fill them. Those who were available weren’t good enough. One-third of respondents said that the overall quality of applicants was falling and 45% said the quality declined for specific positions.

World Economic Forum’s report on The Global Human Capital report 2017 stated, nations world over are literally wasting their 38% of talent. It is a paradoxical scenario where on one hand, the number of unskilled workers is towering on the other, jobs with newer skills are spawning. While on the micro scale this shortage can seem insidious, on a macro one it poses serious challenges to organizations and governments. And doubting that this is the beginning of a global economic collapse doesn’t look far from the truth.

Latin America or Latent America

The skill gap is a global issue. The number of employers who are satisfied with the performance of their new hires has been sinking for more than a decade and continues to do so at a greater speed. This gap exists across regions, countries, industries and companies. A survey from QS Global employer 2018 found South American employers to be least satisfied with its new graduates.

Regional breakdown of core skills showed broadening gap in problem-solving, data analytics, resilience and communication skills across Latin America.

While the United States has over-performed in Commercial awareness, negotiation skills and language, it has underperformed in technical skills, teamwork and interpersonal skills. The dissatisfaction with the gap in technical skills is prevalent equally in both small and large companies. There is a mismatch between expectations at both applicants and employer’s end. While students assessed the importance of technical skills at 2, employers rated it at 8.

Stating the obvious again, the widening gap between universities, employers and students needs to be bridged. The skills and behaviors that favor economic and career development need to be identified and followed through.

What Employers Value:

Top 5 skills for employers globally:

  • Problem-solving
  • Teamwork
  • Communication skills
  • Adaptability
  • Interpersonal skills

Research by ISE found that 82% of employers don’t care about the degree of their employee. However, this doesn’t mean that they are expecting less out of them. The same research also says that both employers and employees are expecting more from each other. The deal is tougher for graduates as they lack market insight, experience and exposure.

The UK, a country with the most satisfied employers, has paved the way for others to follow. In the past three years, employers in the UK have:

  • changed their selection process to identify candidates with updated skills.
  • taken steps to improve on-job training.
  • customized trainings.
  • started using non-conventional ways to upgrade the skills of their employees.
  • Is it time for the US and the rest of the world to adopt these tried and tested strategies?

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