What is the Real Gap?

What is the Real Gap?

The “Skills Gap” has been referenced in recent media, mentioned regularly amongst industries and businesses, but how is the “Skills Gap” defined? Well, there are several different ways to define it and one of my favorites is: the difference between what an employer expects a new employee to be able to do on day one and what the employee is actually capable of doing. What causes this disconnect and what can be done about it?

Why does that difference in expectation and reality even exist and is that the true Gap? The 2016 McKinsey and Company report, Education to Employment, highlights some of the interesting facts behind the Skills Gap. Surprisingly, while over 72% of educators and teachers believed that their students were ready for the work world right out of school, less than 50% of students and employers agreed with that belief. That is a Real Gap!

The report also revealed that less than 25% of businesses have a regular, ongoing and real relationship with any school. Now, this doesn’t include a sign in the outfield of the high school baseball field, but a real relationship where they are working in collaboration with the school to best prepare the students for life after high school. Interestingly, for the 25% of businesses that do have a real relationship with schools, they also report having the least problem with a Skills Gap. For the 75% that do not have that relationship with a school, that is a Real Gap!

Over the past few years, Bridging America’s Gap (BAG) has been focused on this gap in the Skills Gap. In April, we hosted 2 Career Skills Events (CSE) in partnership with both SkillsUSA Chapters in Indiana and Wisconsin to bring together students, educators and businesses for open and honest sharing. Students were able to casually interact with young professional skilled craftsmen and women to get a better idea of what the true challenges and opportunities are that exist in any particular trade.

Imagine the surprise when a high school student who is focused exclusively on IT discovers that IT is more than just building and maintaining computers. When they discover how much IT is involved in diesel mechanics, or that merging welding and IT can lead you into robotics, you can see the proverbial light bulb go on over their head. This knowledge opens career pathways one may never have envisioned. Why would they be so surprised? Because unless students have the opportunity to interact with someone who is passionate about their career path in a skilled trade, students will never be exposed to additional opportunities in a field they are already passionate about. That is a Real Gap!

In today’s world of education where too many education systems focus on college as the only “true path of opportunity” students are rarely exposed to the other “path of opportunity”. If students don’t have a family member, a neighbor or a close family friend who is involved in the skilled trades, they may not be aware of what a great lifestyle plumbing, heavy equipment, manufacturing, welding, health care, culinary arts or any of the other skilled trade careers can provide. They will not learn that the average college student could avoid over $30,000 in debt to find a job that will pay them on average, no more than what any successful skilled trade person will earn in a given year. They will not learn that the proper trade skill certifications can be worth their weight in silver if not gold. That is a Real Gap!

At BAG, we have spent the last 4 years developing programs that bring students, educators and businesses together so that this story can be told one-on-one. If we want to build the pipeline that brings entry level employees into the trade skills, these are the steps that must be taken. If we don’t address this Real Gap, then we cannot fix the Skills Gap!

501 (c)(3) Workforce Development Organization

© 2018 Bridging America’s Gap. All Right Reserved.

Bridging America’s Gap Provides Resources to SkillsUSA State Conferences

May 8, 2018

ALEXANDRIA, VA., May 8, 2018 (Newswire.com) – Bridging America’s Gap (BAG) hosted 2 Career Skills Events (CSE) last month in partnership with SkillsUSA Indiana and SkillsUSA Wisconsin State Conferences. BAG provided the future of skilled trade workforce with resources, to include options after graduation.

These CSE’s provided student competitors exposure to potential employers through Learning Stations with Industry Champions providing real life experiences on how they got into the skilled trade industries, what their career paths have been as well as tips on how to prepare for job interviews and land their first job. BAG provided job description one-pagers for each Learning Station highlighting job duties, potential salary, required education, training and certifications. In addition, the students and their advisors spent time with Skills Gap Solution Supporters, where the students tested their skills on welding and construction equipment simulators and interacted with representatives and recruiters from local training schools and skilled trade employers.

Many students indicated that the Learning Stations opened their eyes to career possibilities they otherwise may not have considered. Michael, competing in Information Technology from Anthis Career Academy in Fort Wayne, IN, shared that his favorite Learning Station was Diesel Mechanics, hosted by Brett Lanpher with TravelCenters of America. Michael said he never realized how many computers are in a semi (truck) and how much money you can make working in a repair shop.

Kelly Fink, Director, Strategic Communications & Outreach for BAG says, “many students were shy about approaching our sponsors, I felt my main goal was to help the kids feel at ease and to earn their trust. Once I asked them about their passion and what they were competing in during the SkillsUSA competitions, they opened up and I was able to help guide them through our event. One young man was the exception and caught my eye. I watched Gabriel from Lake Geneva Badger High School in Wisconsin participate in every Learning Station and visit all the Skills Gap Solution Supporters on his own, without guidance from an advisor. When I asked if he thought this experience was valuable, he smiled and said, absolutely. Gabriel has a passion for cars and has a dream to own his own shop someday. The Zimbrick Chevrolet Learning Station Champions told him to follow his dreams, Gabriel said that it’s very comforting to know people out there believe.

One of the Industry Champions for manufacturing, Tamara Bradley, Quality Manager with E.K. Machine Co., Inc. in Fall River, WI who started as a brake press operator 15 years ago and worked her way up in the company shared, “speaking with kids today was a great experience, providing the message to them that manufacturing has a lot of great career options. They don’t have to go to college right out of high school, they can get into the workforce right away, which provides a lot of options with tuition reimbursement and on the job training. Getting an entry level position right out of school in manufacturing is a good first step in starting a career.”

“Our goal and objective in hosting Career Skills Events is to help employers develop long-term solutions to find qualified workers and to provide resources to the next generation of skilled workers so they can achieve their career dreams. Understanding less than 25% of businesses have a true relationship with schools, our mission is to help bridge the gap that exist between educators and employers. I believe the collaboration we offer through our Career Skills Events makes a difference.” shared Brett Melvin, Executive Director, Bridging America’s Gap.

These Career Skills Events cannot be successful without the support of local businesses, unions and trade schools. BAG would like to thank these sponsors: Associated Training Services, Brooks Tractor, E.K. Machine Co., Inc., Fabick Cat, IUOE 139, J. Everett Light Career Center, Major Tool & Machine, National Transportation Center, TalentLynk, TravelCenters of America and Zimbrick Chevrolet.

Headquartered in Alexandria VA, Bridging America’s Gap is set up as a 501(c)3 provider of workforce & skills gap solutions that bring educators, students, businesses and industries together. The skills gap is one of America’s most challenging business dilemmas and Bridging America’s Gaps’ highly specialized solutions, which build relationships between all stakeholders, is critical to the success of closing the skills gap and can make all the difference between success and failure. For more information, contact [email protected].

501 (c)(3) Workforce Development Organization

© 2018 Bridging America’s Gap. All Right Reserved.