Solving the Trillion-Dollar Skills Gap

For the last several years in the United States and around the world, organizations have identified a skills gap – a gap between what skills they need their new hires to have and what skills are being taught in school to prepare future workers. The skills gap is so severe that there is already a talent shortage in several industries, including manufacturing, IT, engineering, and leadership. Many of the skills needed to fill this gap – and many of the 7 million unfilled jobs – are STEAM skills: Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math. Many of the skills missing include those necessary for strong leaders – things like critical thinking skills and creativity.

The Solution to the Skills Gap

It is because of this skills gap that GG4L will be launching the Future-Proof Skills Impact Initiative. Future-Proof Skills will focus on purposefully attracting a unique ecosystem of innovative EdTech vendors, content publishers, corporate sponsors, education foundations, and research organizations, all focusing on STEAM and Business Skills, pathways to higher education and specialized careers, and solving the anticipated future shortage in various skill sets required by hundreds of career choices, many of which are yet to be identified.

The Cost of the Skills Gap

It is predicted that this skills gap will cost the economy $1.2 trillion over the next 10 years. All you have to do is type “skills gap” into a Google search and you’ll discover that there is a sense of desperation in a number of industries regarding the skills gap, to the point where Amazon is investing $700 million to retrain a third of their workforce. We can all do more to shorten the gap between the skills needed in the workplace and the skills brought by the up-and-coming workforce.

The Education Gap Begins in K-12

It’s not just employers seeking people with college degrees, although according to the American Action Forum (AAF), all 50 states will have a shortage of talent with bachelor’s degrees by 2029. (California will face a deficit of over one million workers, while New York will have a shortage of 868,000 workers. For Illinois, the shortfall will reach 522,000). The gap is just as significant for workers with associate degrees or some college, with the gap measuring in the thousands in smaller states and close to 200,000 in larger states. That is a lot of unfilled positions, which could potentially be catastrophic for the economy.

How to We Narrow the Gap?

Future-Proof Skills aims to create a validated framework for a continuous improvement process that needs to be adopted by schools worldwide. Future-Proof Skills will ensure that schools are preparing a future workforce that is ready to tackle new and emerging opportunities in various new fields such as Artificial Intelligence, Data Science, Robotics, and Cybersecurity as well as have access to the STEAM skills needed for becoming tomorrow’s leaders and innovators.

Future-Proof Skills will help each school individually and uniquely bridge the gap between the knowledge and skills it currently teaches, with those that are identified locally and globally as needed for success, including  those that are just emerging and those that we have not even dreamed of yet. This will require a data-informed framework that connects the ecosystem of learners, educators, employers, social systems, and technology solutions, enabling individuals to find the best match for their knowledge, skills, and abilities and the needs of the workforce and society.

Final Thoughts about the Skills Gap

In London, when you’re about to step on or off the “tube” they say, “mind the gap.” It’s a way to make sure people don’t make a misstep and trip or fall on their way in and out of the trains, as there is a small gap between the train and the station platform. It’s worthy advice to heed, minding the gap. And it’s something all of us – schools, teachers, students, professionals, corporations, edtech vendors, and all of the non-profit and public benefit corporations who support them – should keep in mind as we approach the future of education.