NCATC Friends and Colleagues,
The COVID-19 Pandemic has stripped millions of Americans of their jobs. As of April 2021, the economy was still down 4 million jobs (Gartner) compared to February 2020. At the same time, we are seeing unprecedented labor shortages, with 8.1 million (Korn Ferry) jobs open and unfilled across the U.S. Markets that saw explosive growth due to the pandemic, such as cybersecurity and technology (USDOL), are struggling to maintain the levels of innovation needed to continue that trend, because they can’t find the right talent.
According to the trusted research of Harvard Business Review - one of the biggest reasons is that the U.S. education system has not been held accountable for ensuring that students are properly equipped with the skills and capabilities to prepare for a career where they can obtain financial stability.
Additionally, the majority of employers continue to rely on a traditional four-year degree requirement as a primary means of determining job candidate employability. The disconnect here is obvious - since the beginning of the pandemic, job postings (Burning Glass) for entry-level positions that require a bachelor’s degree fell by 45% — pointing to the fact that employers simply want candidates who have more skills and experience in the real world.
But if our system is failing to prepare students for a career, how can we expect education to be the building block of our economy and a key source of talent recruitment?
The U.S. may be one of the only countries where a stigma around vocational, career and technical education (CTE) and training still exists. Countries such as Germany, Austria, and Switzerland have long seen vocational education as a pathway to the middle class, and an effective system to provide students with the skills they’ll need to further their career. In America, two-thirds (65%) (CEW) of all open jobs still state that they require a bachelor’s or associate’s degree, which eliminates career paths for millions of Americans and, quite frankly, is not necessary to succeed in many of today’s open jobs.
Yet, businesses continue to penalize applicants who follow nontraditional education paths, as nearly two-thirds (61%) of business and HR leaders admit to tossing out resumes without four-year degrees, even if the applicant was qualified.
To build a strong workforce with the skills needed to find career success, we need to realize that both employers and higher education institutions have a role to play. If employers and not truly engaged in the 21st century workforce development solutions with education – they are without any doubt part of the problem.
Hiring managers must consider that many of the traditional education paths are no longer the standard:
Higher education institutions should collaborate with employers to align educational offerings with the skills needed to perform jobs in the real world:
NOTE: The BILT Model for success above applies here.
NOTE: These will benefit both customers of education and workforce development – the Employers and the Students.
NCATC continues to be part of the Manufacturing Industry Recovery Panel which will help shape the Biden Administration’s ‘Made in All of America’ initiative and related policies through meetings with the Department of Commerce and Congressional leadership. A few of the key policy recommendations will focus on ways to support diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) for effective training and support – and include, but are not limited to:
Consistent with NSC’s Inclusive Economic Recovery framework, NCATC wants to help ensure these initiatives address:
We are aware that skills training alone will not ensure an inclusive recovery, but it must be part of our nation’s federal policy response. The time is NOW to get much more actively involved in federal, state and local policies that will set priorities and funding for the future of work.
Our 2021 Webinar Series has focused on Access, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (ADEI) in partnership with both ACTE and NSC and you can find the first two webinar recordings on the NCATC Website here.
And as always, we encourage you to stay regularly connected and up to date on all ATC and CTE related activities and guidance, via the weekly updated NCATC website, social media (LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.), and quarterly e-newsletters like this one.