A recent article by Harold Sirkin on Forbes.com addressed the skills gap that affects industries such as home building. Sirkin reports that even as hiring has slowed, a significant skills gap remains. Simply put, there are more skill-dependent jobs than properly trained applicants. In fact, in June of this year, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, via its monthly Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (known as JOLTS), reported a record-setting six million job openings across the United States.
On Reuters.com, Lucia Mutikani reports that “U.S. job openings surged to a record high in April.” The jobs are being created, the problem is finding the right employees for these jobs. The answer, in part at least, is apprenticeships. Sirkin describes a program, ApprenticeshipNC, in North Carolina that works with the community college system and employers to create skilled future employees. This program is subsidized by tax money. While this might cause concern for taxpayers, he outlines how the cost-per-student is a fraction of what North Carolina pays per student at typical university higher education level.
North Carolina isn’t alone with its apprenticeship program. Numerous states have similar options, and the federal government, specifically the United States Department of Labor, does as well with its ApprenticeshipUSA program. Even with plenty of opportunities available, both jobs and apprenticeship programs, a large part of the problem is a cultural favoring of traditional higher education—college and university degrees. Sirkin points out that U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration reported that only 505,000 people took part in apprenticeship programs in 2016, which works out one apprentice for every 26 college students. As Sirkin writes: “there’s no really big push, locally or nationwide, to expand the ranks—certainly nothing on the scale of the ‘college for everyone’ push that’s been taking place for several decades now.”
Steps are being taken. In June, President Trump did issue an executive order that specifically aims to expand apprenticeships in the United States.
Harold Sirkin’s Forbes.com article: More Apprenticeships Could Narrow The Skills Gap
Lucia Mutikani’s Reuters.com article: U.S. job openings hit record high; skills mismatch rising