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The U.S. Skills Gap – Real and Growing

Oct 24, 2013
Dane Linn

More evidence is out this week that the U.S. skills gap is widening further.

The latest proof comes from Bayer’s annual “Facts of Science Education” survey, which has been conducted since 1995 to gauge public opinion on U.S. science education. This year, the survey asked talent recruiters from Fortune 1000 companies if they are experiencing a shortage of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) talent in the workforce. The answer from 150 recruiters at 117 companies? Yes – and the situation promises to get worse.

The recruiters reported that while more STEM jobs are being created today than non-STEM jobs, even at companies that don’t have a STEM focus, only half of their companies are able to find adequate numbers of qualified job candidates to fill those positions. They forecast that this trend will continue over the next 10 years. They also said Fortune 1000 companies prefer to hire STEM degree holders, even for non-STEM jobs, which means the skills gap will only get worse without concerted action. These unfilled jobs have negative effects on company business and revenue, the recruiters added.

This latest survey comes on the heels of one from the OECD that found, on measures of literacy, numeracy and problem solving in technology-rich environments, U.S. adults fall below international averages.

Addressing the skills gap remains a top priority for Business Roundtable members and for the entire U.S. business community. Bayer is committed to closing the gap by using more internships and scholarships to address its shortage of engineering expertise. Such efforts are similar to those utilized by other member companies. But there is only so much they can do on their own.

Business Roundtable recently outlined the kinds of public policies America needs to help close the gap – focusing attention on adults and not just recent high school grads, support for different pathways to attain needed skills and access to online training are among the recommended solutions. (See “Taking Action on Education and Workforce Preparedness.”)

The report also details our strong support for college- and career-ready K-12 education standards, known as the Common Core State Standards, which are key to preparing all students for the jobs of tomorrow.

From K-12 education reform to on-the-job training, addressing the U.S. skills gap will continue to be a priority for Business Roundtable members and the U.S. business community. It must be for our nation’s leaders as well. America’s future competitiveness and the success of all Americans depend on it.

 

News coverage:  

 Education Week, "Survey Highlights Shortage of Job Applicants With a STEM Background"

Kansas City Business Journal, "Survey Finds STEM Grads Still in High Demand, Short Supply"

Politico's Morning Education, "SURVEY: STEM WORKFORCE SHORTAGE"

Wall Street Journal (subscription), More Businesses Want Workers With Math or Science Degrees"   

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Vice President
Business Roundtable

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