CNN Cites “Skills Gap,”New Collar Instead Blue Collar Employment”
A few months back, Flex-Team released a PDF available on our website as a downloadable resource concerning the so-called “skills gap” – a growing problem for all sorts of manufacturing and blue-collar employers who find themselves unable to hire new workers with the necessary skills needed for the job. Part of this mushrooming issue is that for many years now, blue collar jobs such as custodians, welders, plumbers, electricians, carpenters and the like have been looked down upon by an increasingly upwardly mobile generation of incoming workers who have sought 4-year college degrees when it comes to post-high school education.
While we can understand the ambition of young men and women who want to attend college and land a professional white collar position right out of school for all sorts of reasons – higher salaries, self-esteem, the advantages of higher education, upward mobility via promotions, companies largely requiring college degrees for even basic positions, family achievement – what is now happening to college graduates is often anything but rewarding. The tales of college graduates being unable to find jobs in their fields or any professional job at all and thus being forced to “settle” for work in fast food, chain stores, coffee shops and labor positions is becoming all too common. Furthermore, these recent graduates are saddled with extremely high college-loan debt to pay back and are often bitter that their expensive education has led them to jobs they were doing back in high school!
Meanwhile, with fewer and fewer blue collar-skilled workers entering the workforce and Baby Boomers retiring at an increasing pace, there’s simply not enough skilled employees out there to take over for the retiring individuals. The skills gap is growing. Experts are worried that this glut of educated professionals with little real-world experience and few promising job leads, and the dearth of men and women willing and interested in the jobs that actually built America and keep it running smoothly – road crews, construction workers, factory employees, truck drivers, farmers, etc. – could cause a domino effect and instigate a true crisis in the United States when it comes to productivity, profit and ongoing national growth. It’s as if the main idea in the film Idiocracy is actually coming to pass, albeit concerning employment and the economy and labor skills instead of basic intelligence and common sense.
CNN recently began covering this alarming development.
“While overall business optimism remains high, leaders of companies big and small across the United States are concerned about the skills gap — the mismatch between the skills the workforce has to offer and the skills employers need. In fact, more than 50% of Business Roundtable’s CEO members report that talent gaps are “already problematic or very problematic” for their companies and industries. Yet when it comes to preparing our future workforce to meet businesses’ needs, there’s a prevailing attitude in America that the only higher education credential that matters is a four-year degree. This stigma against alternative education pathways hurts potential students and the nation as a whole.”
The solution to this problem is a heartening one and makes complete sense. More students need to see the value of blue collar, or as the article calls it – “new collar” – opportunities. Along with good wages and valuable service one can offer his or her community as a craftsman or craftswoman, the young people who see the future clearly and don’t want to compete with often-dwindling office employment are going to be getting the opportunity to create their own service-based businesses, work for themselves, and provide skills that will be increasingly rare in the future. (A recent car insurance commercial touted roadside service for young men who don’t know how to even change their car’s flat tire!)
AS the CNN article explains it, “To change the narrative, we need a collective effort that makes the case for career and technical education (CTE) as a valuable pathway to both significant professional opportunities in today’s job market and a critical means to help close our country’s skills gap. In making this case, we would be able to overcome a significant roadblock to lower unemployment rates and advance economic growth and global competitiveness. Students who choose the CTE approach also deserve our support and encouragement.”
Flex-Team is committed to working with today’s young men and women emerging from school and entering the workplace. We provide temporary employment opportunities that often lead to full-time, permanent positions. Many of our positions feature some form of on-the-job training as well. In a day and age where fewer and fewer office and “professional” positions are available for the masses jockeying for those positions, we’re glad to offer a path of employment for those who are willing to work and learn a new skill. Please take a look at our current job openings here. When you’re ready, you can apply to work with Flex-Team on this page of our site.