There is a debate going on that is not easily settled. Does the skills gap exist? If it does, why? How do we close it?
Opponents blame the recession for high unemployment rates and say there is no skills gap, just no jobs. On the other hand, analysts, journalists, business executives, and employment specialists say the gap is real and it is growing. Which side is correct?
The Gap or Not The Gap, That’s Not The Question
Regardless of the actual gap, the answer to all of the questions is education. Real education, not just the years spent in a school. Education is a bridge to a brighter future for everyone. It should not be limited to check lists and basic requirements. Wherever you are on the learning continuum, there is always more to learn.
This is why at Global Learn Day, we emphasize and promote lifelong learning and endless, self education. How can these principles solve the skills gap? Let’s explore three reasons.
Adult Education and Essential Skills
Basic skills like reading, writing, and computation are foundational to the educational process. Yet, millions of prospective employees lack these cornerstone, building blocks. In the United States alone, 36 million adults of working age are not proficient in language usage, fluent reading, and everyday math.
Without these skills, not only will the search for employment be difficult, but acquiring new skills is nearly impossible. A base of knowledge must be laid in order to build a lifetime of learning. This is a skills gap that plagues every corner of the world. In countries with mandatory, universal education, it should be a wake up call that our methods must change in order to reach and teach every student.
Adult education does not address the cause of this gap, but effectively treats the symptoms of it. Investing in adult education creates a ripple effect that allows for better opportunities for the adult learner, as well as greater hope for future generations. Low income children who have at least one parent who has earned a G.E.D, are more likely to finish high school themselves.
Education begets education. Learning inspires more learning. By building up one segment of the population that is underserved and underskilled, the entire society is boosted and inspired to work harder. So, providing adult education to close the basic skills gap will help ensure that gap continues to lessen in the future generations.
Continuing Education in Corporate Culture
Gone are the days of learning a finite skills set, earning a degree or diploma, and finding a lifelong career in one organization. The information age has ushered in a wave of advancing technology that continues to evolve and develop. What was top last year or even last month has now been replaced by a new software or operating system.
Basic education and higher education are still so vitally important, but in order for workers and employers to compete in this brave new world, continuing education must be a central tenet of how they do business.
Corporate learning retreat, incentives for continuing education classes, and encouragement for passive learning among employees are the hallmarks of what will not only close the skills gap in growing fields but also keep companies afloat in these volatile economic waters.
Continuing education is not just a buzz word, nor a race to a higher salary, for every employee it must be a way of life.
The Ben Franklin Way–Self Education
In locations where education is mandatory and universal, there is a tendency to equate education with school. However, these are two very different concepts. Schools may be where you get educated, however an education is not exclusive to school.
Like the rest of the world, schools are struggling to keep up with the pace of the digital age. Even the best schools are not adequate in providing all of the skills a person would need by the time he enters the workforce or looks to advance his career. This is because the skills that will be needed at that time are for platforms that do not exist today.
The push to include subjects like coding in school is part of a movement to prepare students for a future that we cannot even imagine right now. However, even these efforts will not insulate the next generation from a skills gap of their own.
Self education is the answer to the skills crisis. It has always been the answer. No matter what education you are lacking, individual study and pursuit of knowledge is what propels the motivated forward.
Like our patron, Benjamin Franklin, Global Learn Day recognizes and celebrates the on going efforts of self education. In an age where skills are demanded but not being formally taught, adopting a habit of independent study apart for certificates, degrees, or pay incentives to be earned will provide much greater opportunity than any corporate education structure or formal education.
The skill to self educate is the the greatest skill to acquire. Those able to stay ahead of the curve, learn new technologies, and be flexible in how common procedures are done will be the ones to achieve and succeed.
How will you close your own skills gap today?