The skills gap refers to the gap between the skills employers need and the skills individuals have. This gap is growing due to the increasing amount of technology used in the workplace requiring new skills that employees need to learn. The gap is growing as employees, both future and present, are either not learning the skills quickly enough or are learning the wrong skills altogether.
There are four main stakeholders, the businesses that employ people, individuals in or entering the workforce, education providers that prepare people for the work, and governments that can provide an efficient environment for the other three stakeholders to operate effectively.
Work keeps at bay three great evils: boredom, vice, and need.Voltaire
As an educator, my main focus is on the individuals in or preparing for the workforce. Work is extremely important, most of us find meaning in the work we do, the majority of the socialising and connections to other people is through our jobs, and they allow us to develop mastery. Gaining the right skills to get a good job also provides financial rewards that offer us freedom and independence.
All four stakeholders aim to narrow this gap and provide bridges between people and jobs. The UK Government has recognised that the increase in higher education participation rates to over 50% of the population has not narrowed this gap. They have taken bold steps to address this issue with the apprenticeship levy, postgraduate loans, and the recent technical qualifications. Many university leaders following the Augar report are pushing for lifelong learning credits or similar to support the reskilling in additional to the other changes.
Further increasing participation in higher education is not enough as there needs to be an effort to match the skills required with the ones being taught. There are significant moves from the government towards addressing this issue so it now the turn of educators to take the raw materials we are given and work with employers and students to build the bridges to connect the two.