Education, News

Using Education to Fight the Skills Gap

A problem has been looming in the United States industrial engine since the 1990s. According to author Gary J. Beach, it has widened considerably since 2000 and continues to affect the growth and strength of the economy. This has been named the “skills gap.” It has been examined, analyzed and carefully studied by academics, economists and government officials. Those who view it as a serious threat know the only way to fight the Skills Gap is through education.

What Is the Skills Gap?

A Skills Gap is the condition in which the jobs that are available are not compatible with the skills currently available. As a result, people who may be highly educated are not able to obtain work because they do not have the skills. In this situation, some individuals may be overqualified or under qualified. In either situation, the employer is unable to find the best match for the employment he is offering.

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Where Does the U.S. Skills Gap Exist?

The skills gap tends to exist in several fields. While some are in the construction job; others are found in the science, technology and math (STEM) sectors. There are even scarcities in computing. While individuals do exist and have received education in many of these fields, they are not skilled enough. They do not have the practical application skills. Some suffer from the disadvantage called “Good in Theory,” that affects many students who graduate from a college.


Gale Tenen Spak, writing in an article titled “US Advanced Manufacturing Skills Gap: Innovative Education Solutions,” believes the answer to the problem is education. Yet, for her and so many other informed individuals, it is innovative learning or education. They are also aware of the problem – a cultural one that consistently describes vocational schools – one of the solutions to the Skills Gap, to be socially inferior, for those who failed to make the cut at high school. This is as Sven Boll plainly states, the issue facing the need to increase employable workers.

In contrast to American attitude is the German position. In Germany, this vocational training is the best means for companies to train and cultivate skilled and loyal employees. Volkswagen’s only manufacturing plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee provides classic proof of how this approach can effectively attract, train and keep employees. All it requires is some investment by interested companies.

The Solution

Obama has expressed his interest in increasing funding for the expansion of apprenticeship programs within the coming five years. This requires American companies taking the initiative to help contribute to this form of education. In Michigan, Mike Gidley, Executive VP of Pontiac Coil Co. has accepted the role of chairman for the steering committee of MAT2. There is also Apprenticeship 2000 in North Carolina and a strong vocational stance in New York. In 2013, the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) put into motion a program intended to increase the amount of occupational certifications to one-half million by 2017.

The specifics of the solution are still debated by some schools of thought. Yet, research does seem to indicate that a change in the education system and society’s tendency to look down on vocational training is required. Industries and businesses also need to get on board and make the investment in education necessary to make it possible for the American economy to become competitive once more. Only through such measures and partnerships can the Skills Gap be reigned in and begin to decrease.

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The Author

Mary Brown

Mary Brown

Mary Brown has enjoyed writing about education and finance related topics, such as scholarships, student loans, college, vocational degree choices, and adult education since the early 2000's. She also writes about school budgets, accreditation and fundraising.