Listen to WKXL host Bill Kearney discuss the skills, jobs and employment opportunities that exist in our rapidly chaining economy. Nicholas Wyman, author of Job U and CEO of IWSI Consulting, and WKXL host Bill Kearny discuss Bill Gates, the current minimum wage, and the power that apprenticeships and traineeships can have on the future of our economy.
You’d be hard-pressed to name three jobs that seem to have as little in common as an electrician, a chef, and an entrepreneur. But even though the work couldn’t be more different, these jobs share one important trait: they all require practical skills that can be gained through hands-on experience in the real working world, not just books or theory or classroom study.
These are just a few of the well-paid, middle skills jobs that represent the opportunities of tomorrow. Many people think of middle skills jobs as menial, low-paying jobs with no opportunities for advancement. This couldn’t be farther from the case. The reality is that today, there is a bevy of respectable, well-compensated, upwardly mobile careers that don’t require a traditional four-year education.
In many countries, vocational study unfortunately has a history of being seen as less respectable than attending university. But with unemployment and underemployment rates of college graduates at such high levels in the U.S. and elsewhere, it’s time for this perception to change. It’s time to spread the word that skills training, perhaps now more than ever, is possibly the most reliable pathway to an interesting and rewarding career.
3 Good Reasons to Consider Skills Training
1. The traditional four-year degree is leaving many people in the cold.
If you’re weighing the investment in a four-year degree versus the cost of skills training, consider these figures: right now, for every 100 college graduates in the U.S., there exist only 57 jobs that require a degree. This leaves 43 out of every 100 college graduates faced with unemployment or underemployment. These individuals invested an average of US$120,000 into their degree, much of it borrowed. But rather than transitioning directly from school to a well-paying job in their chosen field, they now have to take whatever job they can to pay back their loans.
In many cases, college graduates are forced to take short-term or low-wage jobs just to keep up with their debt. Many graduates even move back home due to financial pressures. According to a 2014 Gallup Poll, 51% of American adults between the ages of 18 and 35 are living with their parents.
On the other side of the scale, apprenticeship and on-the-job training allows candidates to earn while they learn. Rather than shelling out or borrowing significant amounts of money for your education, you can jumpstart a career while putting money in your own pocket.
2. An increasing number of job opportunities don’t require a college degree.
Even as college graduates face unemployment and underemployment, hundreds of thousands of jobs that require only high school, plus vocational training, remain unfilled. At the moment, 61% of all available jobs in the U.S. don’t require a college degree. And these aren’t just minimum-wage, dead-end, or revolving-door jobs that no one wants to do. Many of the available jobs are in prestigious and interesting fields like health care, electronics, building, manufacturing, design, and culinary arts. Jobs that can be acquired with on-the-job training or apprenticeships are even increasing in fields such as biotechnology, horticulture, and computers.
In Silicon Valley, for example, many smart entrepreneurs are adapting to the reality that a college education doesn’t necessarily equip graduates with the skills to be a great employee, making certain jobs formerly associated with a four-year degree attainable through skills training. Take LaunchCode, for example, a Missouri-based firm that has partnered with large companies like Monsanto (who need computer programmers) to match people who have basic programming skills with more experienced programmers for further training. At the end of their two-year paid training period, these apprentices are ready for jobs as coders.
These days, you don’t even necessarily need a college degree to work at a place like Google – a company well known for being one of the most selective and desirable employers on the planet. According to Lazlo Bock, the senior vice president of people operations (a twenty-first-century term for human resources) at Google, an increasing percentage of Google’s new hires have not, in fact, graduated college. When evaluating candidates, instead of a high GPA or fancy diploma, Google looks for practical skills and expertise, problem-solving ability, humility, a desire to lead, and the willingness to learn.
And the demand for skilled people in the tech industry is only going to increase in the coming years—opening the door for more training opportunities that do not require four years of college study.
3. Opportunity for Exciting, Real-World Experiences.
Skills training provides incredible opportunities for all kinds of hands-on learning experiences. Have you ever dreamed of traveling and seeing the world while learning a profession? Or studying business with a Fortune 500 executive? How about apprenticing with a master chef? Many traineeships and apprenticeships provide exciting opportunities outside the classroom. Skills training, in other words, not only builds solid career futures, but also opens doors to life-enriching experiences like these.
Personal and economic success is coming to more and more people through practical skills training—and that’s another thing an electrician, a chef, and an entrepreneur have in common.
Following Your Passion into a Career Path
Job U author Nicholas Wyman and Marsha Barancik from the Institute for Workplace Skills and Innovation talk employment, learning and earning and the myriad of options available for students considering career options. They join the program, ‘Focus Talk’ with Dennis Snipe, 89.3 WKKC Radio at Kings College of Chicago.
Dennis is the Station Manager and Assistant Director of Operations at 89.3 WKKC – FM “The Official Radio Station of the City Colleges of Chicago,” where Dennis spends a large amount
of time encouraging and instructing students who are part of the Media Communications Program, which Dennis, along with radio guru, Marv Dyson, was instrumental in designing.
The Single Most Obvious Place You Might Not Have Thought to Look
It’s no myth: employers today are struggling to find enough people with the ‘right’ skills for the job. According to a recent Accenture survey, a stunning 46% of U.S. executives anticipate that over the next two years they won’t have the skilled labor they need.
This skills shortage poses a real threat to many businesses – and yours may soon be one of them. Sixty-six percent of the executives surveyed by Accenture face losing business to the competition, and 64% will lose revenue thanks to the lack of skilled employees. More than half risk a serious drop in customer satisfaction, stalled innovation, and delays in development of new products and services.
Are you having a hard time finding people with the skills needed to innovate and grow your business? If so, there may be one obvious place you haven’t thought to look yet: inside your own company. Instead of spending time and money on recruiting new hires, consider making an investment in training the talent you already have.
More and more, smart companies are growing the valuable human capital they need through on-the-job training. Take a look at MGM Resorts International, for example. Through MGM University, the company provides skills training and professional development for over 66,000 employees, with affordable courses in areas ranging from operations and computer skills to leadership development, HR and finance. When you think about it, it is a win-win proposition. MGM can count on always having a pool of trained talent they need to staff their fifteen resorts worldwide. At the same time, they keep their employees happy and motivated by giving them the opportunity to invest in themselves, further their careers, and increase their earning potential.
MGM is just one of an increasing number of companies securing their future through robust in-house skills training. Whatever the size of your business, you can easily follow their example to ensure a productive, satisfied workforce – without having to look any further than your existing talent roster.
Why invest in on-the-job training?
1. It will save you time and money.
You’ll see these savings both in reduced turnover costs and less time spent recruiting. When human resources can pull from within the company to fill existing roles, it not only saves time spent on recruiting, but also money on flying and interviewing potential candidates. Plus, you save time and money on orientation and basic training when you fill new roles with people who already know the business from inside. And, finally, providing opportunities for ambitious employees to advance reduces your chance of losing them.
2. It builds loyalty and motivation.
On-the-job training and apprenticeships build loyalty, and you can’t put a price on that. When employees can see a clear path upwards in the company, it increases their commitment to the business. When people know they’re not in a ‘dead-end’ job, but rather one with opportunity for growth and development, it does wonders for job satisfaction and in turn, productivity and motivation.
3. It encourages a learning culture.
Business thrives in an atmosphere of open communication and knowledge-sharing. This comes at no extra charge when skills training is part of your business model. Even staffers who are not directly involved in training at the present time benefit from a work environment that encourages learning.
4. It ensures the future of your business.
With nearly half of U.S. executives today facing loss of revenue or a freeze in growth due to skills shortages, now is the time to take control of your company’s future. In today’s competitive global economy, developing human capital is the killer app for the future.
So whether you’re a manager, an HR professional, or the owner of your own business, if you’re struggling to find the right talent, the answer may be right in front of your eyes.
Photo: Getty Images
Accenture. (2013). Accenture 2013 skills and employment trends survey: Perspectives on training [PDF].
Developing the Skills Companies Need
Nicholas Wyman, Author of Job U, joins well known hosts Bob Sirott and Marianne Murciano to look at the skills issues around Chicago’s IT and Skills Sector and discusses the important role of the new ‘STEM’ (Science, technology, engineering and maths) P-TECH Schools. They also discuss the importance of people choosing a career path they are passionate about.