“Retraining” is a buzzword in today’s economy, but why?
Personal computers, automation, and the internet were game changers. Advancements in information technology created new industries, eliminated or downsized others, and changed the way we do business forever.
Because of this, many of us naturally assumed that the future of skills training (and retraining) meant more computers and more STEM. However, new findings cast doubt on what has been conventional wisdom for two decades, causing some HR professionals to ask: Is more tech and more STEM the answer? And, what skills are the right skills? As an example, let’s look at two industries profoundly affected by advancements in IT: Manufacturing and software development.
A recent survey of manufacturers found that the most sought-after skill for customer service and help desk agents was higher level writing. For technicians on the floor is was higher level reading.
Similarly, for software help desk technicians (the second largest IT position in the country), only 15% of jobs required a deep understanding of actual programming. Again, higher level writing skills were the most sought-after.
In both industries, only one-third of workers required any higher level math skills such as algebra or statistics, demonstrating that skills requirements are not distributed equally across the workforce. That means it is up to employers to design roles that fit the proficiencies of their employees, rather than taking a one-size-fits-all approach to training and retraining initiatives.
So when we talk about training, we have to be sure that we are talking about the right training without making assumptions about what we think our employees need. It turns out that not all training means more computers and STEM.
Weaver, Andrew. “The Myth of the Skills Gap.” technologyreview.com. MIT Technology Review, August 27, 2017. https://www.technologyreview.com/s/608707/the-myth-of-the-skills-gap/