Lack of Training Blamed for Skill Gaps

Gina Deveney
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The skills gap is hurting American businesses, and part of the problem is the continuing argument between whether businesses should pay for training or whether the state should be providing essential training. Unfortunately, the current educational setup is no longer adequate to provide teens with basic skills.

It used to be that apprenticeships were the prime training ground for many people. A business would be paid to take on a child as an apprentice, and during that time, the apprentice would learn all about the business. Of course, like any other system, this could be abused, and the child would exit the business at 16 having learned relatively little. Those who did apprenticeships often found themselves with good skills, however, and had a good income.

Since the standardization of education, however, more and more people have been learning the essential skills needed for their businesses much later in life, due to a lack of training. Rather than focusing on one core business, they've been getting a broader education at university. This, unfortunately, has led to a major skills gap where businesses have to teach adults the basics of the business, which adds a significant amount of overhead to new hires.

This skills gap has long been deplored, but the problem is often said to lie with the increased access to higher education that provides very little actual knowledge and instead is an excuse for many students to party and rack up huge debts while avoiding the realities of life.

There's another reason, however: technology. The current reliance on the latest, greatest technological breakthrough in business comes at a cost; it means that those people who were trained on one version of software or method of doing something need to be updated when they leave school and enter the world of business. In addition, so many new industries are popping up due to people discovering or inventing new methods of using the huge amounts of data or accessibility that the Internet offers that many businesses are making it up as they go along. Consequently, the skills gap in these areas is greater because there hasn't been enough time for people to gain the skills required.

Other areas have a more serious skills gap due to the lack of enthusiasm for the topic. Addiction medicine, for example, is one of the lowest-paid positions for doctors and nurses, and it is often dangerous due to the nature of addiction. However, the increasing use of opiate-based painkillers and other addictive medications means that it's a crucial area that people need. Nurses in general are also in short supply, so the skills gap is putting patients at risk.

The lack of training at both the educational level and the business level means that someone has to pick up the slack, and that's often picked up at the business level. The skills gap means that more and more businesses are recruiting with a view to training people, rather than hiring people who already have the skills.


Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles at



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  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    @Jean - I agree. I have relatives who are teachers and believe me - they aren't in it for the money! As for the corporations, it disgusts me that they get all of the tax breaks (something that middle America will never see) and get away with paying peanuts for a position that requires a master's degree! Unfortunately, due to the recent elections, I only expect to see things get worse.

  • Jean H.
    Jean H.

    Unfortunately, most teachers are poorly paid, concerned with keeping their jobs and aren't qualified nor have the knowledge to teach what's required in business and manufacturing. There are no clear paths to equate education with actual jobs. Non-technical courses are designed to keep students in the system to make money for the college districts.

    Many positions are highly business specific even with their own proprietary software, so it's been customary to train new employees. Typically, you could learn a job within 1 - 1.5 years. Companies realized the cost of retention and didn't only focus on the top 3 - 5% of performers but instituted good salaries for the 95% of employees that comprised the backbone of the company. Now they want to hire a college graduate and/or experienced contractors for $15 - $20 per hour with no raise for years. What a joke! Money is somewhat of a motivator! Perhaps that's why the average length of time on a job is 18 months. I was told that graduate doctors' salaries at one of the largest chain of hospitals in California was only $93,0000/year. Barely comparable to a good manager's salary at a large corporation. It's insidious greed by the board of directors of major corporations when a CEO is allotted 528% of an average workers salary. There's such disparity in salaries from management to employees that their greed is ruining the middle class. Thank goodness for the Karma Cafe - they will get what they pay for and the long term effects are already showing!!!

  • James L.
    James L.

    College or Technical Training does leave something to be desired. However, huge gaps are out there in the areas of dependability, responsibility, and willingness to "pay your dues." Businesses should rethink hiring to utilize temp positions WITHOUT just bring people in and out for 3 months to save money.

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