Employers are demanding more education and technical training, according to a survey of human resource professionals by Achieve and the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).
Compared with 10 years ago, more jobs today require technical and STEM skills and a higher education level, many HR professionals said. That trend will continue, they predicted. By contrast, there are fewer entry-level jobs.
Future administrative and secretarial positions will require more education such as an associate’s degree (said 21 percent of HR professionals) or a post-secondary certificate (said 11 percent);
For salaried, individual contributors and professionals, future positions will require a bachelor’s degree (said 71 percent of HR professionals) or an associate’s degree (said 12 percent);
Skilled laborers such as technicians, mechanics, and foremen will need a specific post-secondary certificate or specific credentials for future jobs (said 31 percent of HR professionals);
While most workers with only a high-school diploma can advance in their workplace, that will be more difficult in the future, HR professionals said.
Health care, manufacturing and government jobs require more education than they did 10 years ago, the survey concluded. In the next three to five years, that trend will extend to high-tech jobs and professional services.
Community colleges will get $500 million in federal grants to fund job training. The Labor and Education departments will work together on the program, which will focus on ”skills development and employment opportunities in fields such as advanced manufacturing, transportation and health care, as well as science, technology, engineering and math careers through partnerships between training providers and local employers.”
“Many employers are currently unable to fill well-paying jobs because applicants lack the skills,” says JFF President and CEO Marlene B. Seltzer. “Today’s good jobs require education beyond high school and training that prepares workers with practical skills that employers need. Accelerating Opportunity focuses on educational programs that lead to the credentials workers need to secure a family-sustaining job and long-lasting career opportunities.”
Accelerating Opportunity hopes to create career pathways leading to “marketable, stackable, credit-bearing credentials” in at least 40 community colleges by 2014.
The enthusiasm for “green jobs” will lead to disappointment unless community colleges align alternative energy programs with workforce needs in their area, writes Ellie Ashford on Community College Times.
Research the local market and talk to alternative energy employers before creating a new program, advises Todd Cohen of the American Association of Community College’s SEED (Sustainability, Education and Economic Development) Center.
While a growing number of community colleges are investing in solar, wind and smart grid technology programs, it might make more sense for some to add alternative energy components to existing programs, such as incorporating alternative fuels into automotive technology programs, Cohen said.
In Michigan, Lansing Community College revised its associate degree in energy management in 2010 when it realized graduates weren’t finding jobs. There’s little solar or wind energy in Michigan, but there are jobs in energy auditing and weatherization. The college now offers an associate degree in alternative energy engineering technologies that prepares graduates to do energy audits.
Hagerstown Community College in Maryland offers an associate degree in alternative energy technology plus a two-year certification in solar and wind energy installation and service. The college added alternative energy courses to existing programs, such as HVAC, plumbing and electricity. “That allows us to produce people with fundamental skills that are employable in many other industries,” said Anthony Valente, an instructor in industrial and energy technology.
A five-story science and technology building on the HCC campus opened in January with solar and wind systems that are used for teaching and also offset some of the college’s energy costs. The building uses geothermal wells to heat classrooms and has a rainwater retention system for irrigation and non-potable water.In addition, HCC is building an “energy house,” a residential structure with alternative energy systems that will be used as a laboratory, where students can practice installing solar and geothermal systems, change air flow and conduct energy audits.
When employers in Seattle and Detroit look for information technology technicians, they expect applicants with associate degrees to share some characteristics with bachelor’s degree holders, including technical skills and knowledge, thinking skills, communication skills, and discipline, concludes a working paper from the Community College Research Center by Michelle Van Noy and James Jacobs. However, many hiring managers also feared associate degree holders would lack academic ability, initiative or skill compared to techs with four-year degrees.
Employers did not expect associate or bachelor’s degrees to provide information about certain key qualities, including competency in customer service and teamwork, and personal interest in technology.
The nation’s higher education system is costly, unaccountable and unwilling to change, say business leaders interviewed for Hiring and Higher Education, a report by Public Agenda for the Committee for Economic Development (CED).
“There are growing and grave concerns about the system’s ability to remain a leader and produce the workforce our future economy demands,” said Steve Farkas, lead author of the Public Agenda report. “Business leaders told us that, if higher education fails to control costs and hold itself accountable for results, our colleges and universities will become less relevant, and our economy will suffer greatly.”
However, the business leaders praised community colleges as no-frills institutions that are able to adapt to new challenges and work with employers on job training.
The widely shared perception is that higher education is highly resistant to change, and that innovation and adaptability are hardly the forte of colleges and the administrators who run them. Some executives talked about experiences they had trying to work with their local colleges only to run up against a “can’t-do” system tied up by committees, paperwork requirements and institutional prerogatives.
“The colleges, as creative as they may be, lack innovation,” said one executive. “They’ve set up a certain structure, tenured staff, and because of that they’re opposed to change.”
Despite the high unemployment rate, it’s difficult to find skilled workers in some fields, the executives said.
An $8 billion Community College to Career Fund will reward colleges that partner with local employers to train 2 million workers for high-demand, well-paying jobs in advanced manufacturing, information technology, health care and “green” tech. That’s if President Obama persuades Congress to pass his budget. In a speech at Northern Virginia Community College yesterday, the president linked “America’s comeback” to investing in education. ”We can’t just cut our way into growth,” he said.
A key component of the community college plan would institute “pay for performance” in job training, meaning there would be financial incentives to ensure that trainees find permanent jobs – particularly for programs that place individuals facing the greatest hurdles getting work. It also would promote training of entrepreneurs, provide grants for state and local government to recruit companies, and support paid internships for low-income community college students.
Despite the recession, some high-tech industries report shortages of skilled workers. As the economy recovers and baby boomers retire, there will be 2 million job openings in manufacturing through 2018, according to the Center on Education and the Workforce at Georgetown. But there’s a catch, reports AP.
. . . these types of jobs frequently require the ability to operate complicated machinery and follow detailed instructions, as well as some expertise in subjects like math and statistics.
. . . Mark Schneider, the former U.S. commissioner of education statistics who now serves as vice president at the American Institutes for Research, said there’s no doubt that high-tech companies need skilled workers. But he said there are challenges with leaning heavily on community colleges. Many students enter community colleges lacking math skills. The sophisticated equipment needed for training is expensive, and there’s little known about the effectiveness of individual community colleges programs across the country, he said.
In particular, “green” job training programs have produced disappointing results.
Community colleges have been partnering with industry on job training for many years. “Community colleges understand the needs of local employers,” said Labor Secretary Hilda Solis in a White House press conference yesterday. The fund would allow colleges to hire staff, buy equipment and develop curriculum, she said. (I wanted to ask why taxpayers should fund training for employers, but I was too far back in the phone queue.)
“We will give community colleges the resources they need to become community career centers,” said Education Secretary Arne Duncan, echoing President Obama’s line from the State of the Union speech. We will create “an America built to last,” said Duncan. Also “an economy built to last.” And a workforce “built to last.”
President Obama’s past budgets have been “rife with unfilled promises” to community colleges, notes Inside Higher Ed.
Employers complain they can’t find skilled workers, but they’re demanding too much and refusing to train new workers, Peter Cappelli, a management professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School and director of Wharton’s Center for Human Resources.
To get America’s job engine revving again, companies need to stop pinning so much of the blame on our nation’s education system. They need to drop the idea of finding perfect candidates and look for people who could do the job with a bit of training and practice.
Half of employers surveyed by Manpower say they have difficulty finding skilled workers. That’s because they want experienced workers with exactly the right skill set, Cappelli writes.
Notice the shortage of skilled tradesmen, sales reps, drivers, admins and machinists on the Manpower survey. These are jobs that typically don’t require bachelor’s degree.
Employers should work with colleges to ensure that job candidates developed needed skills, Cappelli writes.
Community colleges in many states, especially North Carolina, have proved to be good partners with employers by tailoring very applied course work to the specific needs of the employer.
Candidates qualify to be hired once they complete the courses—which they pay for themselves, at least in part. For instance, a manufacturer might require that prospective job candidates first pass a course on quality control or using certain machine tools.
Employers also can create apprenticeships, when possible, or longer probationary periods for novices to get up to speed, he suggests.
In Capelli’s follow-up — he got tons of mail — he concedes there’s a shortage of information technology graduates with skills in mobile devices and data mining. That’s because students choosing majors four years ago didn’t anticipate the mobile boom. “We cannot expect schools and students to guess what skills employers will need,” Cappelli writes. “Employers have to do more.”
Do we need more college graduates? asks Andrew Gillen. Eight of 10 “fastest growing occupations” require at least a bachelor’s degree. But the “occupations with the largest job growth” chart tells a different story: Only 4 of the 10 jobs with the largest numerical growth require any postsecondary education; these numbers swamp the numbers in the fastest growing category.
Gillen’s chart looks at the education requirements of the top 30 jobs by growth and number of jobs, using Bureau of Labor Statistics data.
There will be lots of jobs for people without college degrees, but many — take home health-care assistant, for instance — pay poorly.
Many Americans are undereducated, but college credentials won’t fix that, writes George Leef of the Pope Center on the National Association of Scholars blog.
. . . why is it that, despite entreaties from leaders from Obama on down, copious subsidies, and repeated admonitions to students that college will give them a big earnings premium, the college enrollment stats have been flat for some 15 years? I think it’s because lots of marginal students doubt that they will benefit from college. Maybe they’ve heard from friends or family members that many graduates wind up with low-level jobs anyway.
Marginal students probably have friends and family members who’ve tried college but failed to earn a degree.
Cost of College contributes a graph on which industries are gaining and losing jobs and a link to a Wall Street Journal story on what’s hot and what’s not. Hint: Expect more bartenders with bachelor’s degrees.
When adult education classes aren’t available, employers are stepping in to teach reading, basic math and English fluency to low-skilled workers, writes Sarah Butrymowicz on the Hechinger Post.
Mya Maw, a 52-year-old Burmese immigrant, longs for a stable office job in Boston, where she’s raising twin teenage daughters and washing dishes at a hotel. To help reach her goal, she spends most mornings sitting through two hours of English or computer instruction, taking advantage of free basic-skills classes that are a small but significant part of a fractured U.S. adult-education system.
Hospitals, hotels and the food-service industry often offer classes on company space and sometimes company time. Maw’s classes are offered by her union.
Despite the recession, some employers can’t find entry-level workers with academic skills. They hire for “a rudimentary grasp of English and a good work ethic,” then provide training.
At the hotel training center, workers in basic-skills classes hope to qualify for a “coveted banquet-server position, which can pay up to $70,000 a year.” (Why so lucrative?) Others go on to community college and beyond.
In 2004, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston began training employees to fill dozens of vacancies for lab or surgical technicians. Many needed remedial coursework in basic reading, English, math and science. Then the center added GED preparation and English classes for immigrants.
Jobs for the Future, a Boston-based nonprofit that helps health care companies train their workers, reports that 60 percent of its participants earned certification or a degree and 47 percent received raises.
Some of these workers are immigrants, but others went through U.S. schools without acquiring basic reading, writing and math skills.
Years ago, my grandfather figured out why shipments were going astray in his factory. Some of the forklift drivers couldn’t read; they usually guessed correctly about what went where, but not always. He offered free reading classes after work to anyone who wanted help. The turnout was huge. These were native-born, U.S.-educated Americans.
The opening and closing sessions of the White House Summit on Community Colleges will be streamed live at 12:15 pm EDT and 3 pm EDT. President Obama will speak at the opening.
On the ideas site, nearly all the the top-rated ideas call for paying more to adjunct instructors and supporting college libraries. But it looks like job training will be the main focus.
Jill Biden, the vice president’s wife and the host of the summit, was invited to yesterday’s meeting of the president’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board. President Obama announced a public-private partnership, Skills for America’s Future, to align employers’ needs with community college curriculum.
Such partnerships aren’t new, but this will be a national campaign run by the non-profit Aspen Institute. A government task force with Department of Labor and Department of Commerce representatives will collaborate, but no government funding is planned. In fact, the private partners — Gap Inc., Accenture, United Technologies, P.G.& E. and McDonald’s are the first to sign up — will offer only guidance and scholarships but no cash.
Penny Pritzker, a Chicago business executive and Obama fund-raiser, will provide $250,000 in start-up money from the Pritzker Traubert Family Foundation; she’s soliciting money from other foundations.