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How Significant is the Skills Gap?

Skills GapMany individuals have heard of the wage gap—the pay disparity based on gender as well as the one of the low-paid workers in developing countries. Not as many people know about the skills gap. The skills gap refers to the distinction between the skills that are required for a job and the skills that an employee has.

The skills gap is detrimental for individuals’ ability to find work in developing countries. It may affect the ability for households to rise above the poverty line since securing work is one of the main mechanisms for lifting people out of poverty.

The number of unfilled jobs around the world is exorbitant. In the U.S., there were about 5.6 million unfilled jobs in 2015. Other countries, such as Germany and Canada, are experiencing similarly high amounts of job openings. When juxtaposed against the 2016 world unemployment rate, which was approximately 5.75 percent, a solution to unemployment begins to emerge.

Granted, decreasing the skills gap is not the “end-all” solution to unemployment in developing countries. However, there does appear to be a distinction, especially in developing countries, that shows that the skills gap is keeping people from being able to fill jobs.

The best solution to the skills gap is training. Certain new and innovative training techniques such as impact sourcing are seeking to solve the skills gap problem. Impact sourcing is similar to outsourcing, but it primarily helps the impoverished find work. Businesses train future employees on the skills required for them to do their work.

Training employees, and not simply looking for someone who already has the skills required to do a job, is instrumental in helping to lessen the skills gap problem in developing countries. Companies will often look to decrease money allocated to training when looking to trim their budget. An article by the Cornell HR Review stated that in 2008, following the financial crisis, companies cut an average of six percent from their training budgets.

Another solution to the skills gap problem is identified in the Cornell article. This solution is companies engaging in “external partnerships to develop talent sources.” A humanitarian approach is definitely possible. These talent sources can be found in developing countries, as Cornell is alluding to the concept of impact sourcing.

The skills gap is not an easily solved problem, but it is one that needs increased attention. Its negative effects on developing countries will only be exacerbated if left unchecked. Fortunately, scores of researchers and organizations are taking up the quest for knowledge and solutions to the problem.

Rebeca Ilisoi

Photo: Pixabay