By 2020, it’s estimated that over 20 million baby boomers who are skilled employees will retire, these are the professionals most experienced in building America’s infrastructure. A serious workforce challenge across the U.S. is created when there are not enough qualified individuals to fill these vacancies. And the challenge increases when you include the up to 6 million skilled trade positions currently unfilled! There is no doubt, the skills gap is real and only expanding.
There are over 15 million students in America’s high schools today. Roughly 10 million will go on to community college or universities leaving 5 million with no easily identified path forward toward a successful career. One of America’s premier high school skills program, SkillsUSA, has 360,000 students involved in their program. What is the solution to helping the remaining 4.6 million young people find a pathway to a solid entry level position for a lifelong career?
Aligning skilled trade industry stakeholders, industry associations and school communities to create and extend workers training and apprenticeship programs is a good start. Several individual industries and organizations have their own workforce development programs, but we need to engage and coordinate a nationwide effort across a wide range of industries if we are to build a successful workforce development program that has a significant impact on the skills gap.
Bridging America’s Gap (BAG) is working to deliver part of the solution by providing exposure and resources that align veterans, students and teachers together with employers and unions to build a career pipeline for an industry’s entry level positions. The Career Skills Events put together by BAG helps employers develop long-term solutions to their skills gap hurdle.
One of the most promising ideas to address the skills gap and provide the 5 million students who do not have a clear pathway to a promising career is the USA Workforce Tax Credit Act (H.R. 5153) introduced by U.S. Rep. Lloyd Smucker (R-PA-16) on March 1, 2018. This legislation will allow credit against tax for charitable donations to non-profit organizations providing workforce training and education scholarships to qualified elementary and secondary students and allow the public, private and non-profit sectors to work together for a solution to what is an overwhelming national challenge.
The skills gap affects all Americans: rich, poor, Democrat, Republican, educator, business & industry leaders, union & non-union and everyone else in a different but equally challenging way. We need a coordinated effort because there is no single silver bullet to the issue, but by coming together and aligning all the segments of the American populace to a shared vision of eliminating the skills gap we can undoubtedly overcome the challenge and solve the problem.
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