America's Skills Gap Crisis

In 2016, Business Roundtable, an association of chief executive officers of America’s leading companies working to promote a thriving U.S. economy and expanded opportunity for all Americans, surveyed its members and found that more than half of responding CEO members report that skills gaps are already problematic or very problematic for their companies and industries.

As the U.S. continues to rebuild the economy after the Great Recession, many companies find that they’re struggling to hire employees who are trained to meet their needs. As the Business Roundtable survey indicates, more than half of the CEOs they talked to identified the skills gap as “problematic or very problematic.”

Companies may get hundreds or even thousands of applications for open positions they’re trying to fill but may find that they just aren’t seeing the skills they need reflected in those applicants. This issue can be especially prevalent in high-change industries as technology rapidly evolves, leaving skills acquired even just a few years ago suddenly outdated or obsolete. In STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) fields, employers may become stressed seeking well-qualified candidates to hire in the face of new curricula and teaching methods, educational standards, and technological advances.

The Imagine America Foundation is proud to partner with career training institutions who are helping to bridge this skills gap. Because this is where technical colleges and career training programs can help both sides of the problem. With shorter average program completion times, smaller average class sizes, and a more diverse student population than traditional universities and colleges, trade schools can be more focused and more nimble in their approach to skills development. Students may be adults with some real-world job experience or military training under their belts, while traditional universities largely serve recent high school graduates. Trade colleges can more quickly adapt to industry changes by adjusting the skills they teach, where four-year schools may find it harder to make meaningful change in their biggest programs from semester to semester or year to year.

Career training programs are designed to train individuals for the workforce. Trade school institutions often partner with employers directly to find out exactly what skills they’re looking for and adapt their programs accordingly. They focus less on general education and more on the specific training you need to find a job after graduation, helping students find a clearer path to jobs in their field and helping employers find employees with the right skills.

IAF has made it our mission to help students find these programs to help them advance their education, their career path, and their success. Through school directories, robust resources, and award-winning scholarship and award programs, we are supporting students so they can be the answer to the skills gap.