Minding the Gap
We hear it everyday: robots are coming for our jobs. The skills we once considered “competitive” will soon be replaced by automation, and workers who lack the necessary technical training will be eliminated from the workforce.
While we’ve debunked the myth that new technologies will replace industry jobs (rather, these jobs will evolve), the skills gap remains very real.
There’s a clear disconnect between what employers need from workers to get the job done and what job seekers actually know how to do.
Playing the Blame Game
Why aren’t workforce skills lining up with job responsibilities? There’s plenty of criticism to go around, according to a recent survey conducted by ASA (American Staffing Association).
Let’s take a look at the key players in this blame game.
1. Educators
Directly responsible for educating tomorrow’s workers, high schools and colleges are the natural first target.
Schools have the opportunity to make students aware of what kinds of jobs are out there and the skills they require, technical or otherwise. In fact, 93% of ASA’s poll participants said schools need to do more to develop employable graduates, while 75% name inadequate education as a top factor in why the skills gap exists.
2. Employers
Americans are wondering: if companies are dissatisfied with workers, why aren’t they conducting more training? According to a National Staffing Survey 92% of business leaders think workers aren’t as skilled as they need to be. From that same group, 30% identify manufacturing, one of the fastest evolving job industries, as most affected by this lack of skills.
Training is an expensive component of hiring, one that requires time and labor. That same survey says 89% of senior level executives believe training programs could help close the skills gap, but 42% say cost is a deterrent when it comes to actually implementing these programs.
3. Government
Many Americans believe federal and state entities also hold weight. If companies were incentivised by the government, they might be more likely to pursue additional training opportunities for their employees.
4. Job Seekers
Or maybe it’s job seekers themselves who simply aren’t interested in hot, STEM-focused industries like manufacturing, where there are more than 18.5 million U.S. jobs — many of which offer medical benefits and the possibility of tenure. In fact, at the end of 2017, there were 200 open manufacturing jobs in the Champlain Valley alone, one 170 of them contract-to-hire, with an average hourly rate of $14.00; 11 of them direct-hire, one-third with salaries of 60k or higher.
Where’s the disconnect?
Building the Bridge
No one group can take full responsibility for creating the skills gap, but we can all play essential roles in closing it.

At ETS, we’re all about career pathways and lifelong learning. We’ve got a pulse on what industries are expanding throughout the Champlain Valley and the rest of the country. Through our established partnerships with businesses, government leaders, and — of course — job seekers, we aim to guide forward-thinking, skills-based education initiatives.
Below are just a few of our partners:

  • AIME
  • Adirondack Young Professionals (ADKYP)
  • Clinton County Community College
  • Clinton County Youth Bureau
  • CV-TEC
  • Development Corporation
  • Lake Champlain Regional Chamber of Commerce
  • North Country Chamber of Commerce
  • OneWorkSource
  • Plattsburgh Noon Rotary
  • SUNY Plattsburgh
  • Vermont Chamber of Commerce
  • Workforce Investment Board