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Skills GapTraining Where Are We Going to Find Future Skilled Employees? This Is My Plan

If you’re exposed to any media (newspaper, television, online, etc.) you can’t help hearing the prediction that there’ll be a lack of skilled employees in the future. Usually the stories we hear are meant to be dire predictions of our future. Yet when you look around and see a large number of unemployed people, you can’t help but wonder why there’d be a lack of people for future jobs. But what’s key here, is the word “skilled”.

I predict that employers will continue looking for their future employees by advertising in the media and online. And I compare this strategy to fishermen fishing in the same spot, which results in terrible fishing because the area becomes overfished resulting in not enough fish to supply the demand. The probability of finding a good skilled employee through the usual methods will be the same—very unlikely. So how are we going to find our future “skilled” employees? Many people want the government to do more. Others don’t even recognize that this will be an issue. It’s interesting to note that everyone seems to find this a complex problem with very few solutions.

I have spent time speaking with my peers about “skilled” labour shortages and we believe the problem has a very easy solution. It’s time for businesses to invest in the younger generation. We need to create paid training positions to train our future employees. I can already see your eyes rolling. Your first concern is “as soon as I finish training them they will be snapped up by other employers.” This concern quickly puts up a defensive wall, and is likely the reason we have a lack of skilled labour in the first place. The problem is that we look at this as a one-time occurrence instead of an ongoing commitment as part of business. Employees are, in fact, loyal to the people that train them. This is not to say that if you train them they’ll be there for their entire life, but if you’re constantly training new people then you’ll create a stable workforce. Your next concern, “but this training is going to cost a fortune”. Instead of looking at this as a cost, employers need to look at training as an investment in capital (just as you invest capital in equipment, you need capital investment in your people). This should be part of your budget each year and I predict if you don’t start setting aside dollars for this investment in human capital, that you’ll be left behind when it comes to a skilled work force in the future.

Some people ask about why the government is not leading this. I believe that the government is investing in trades education and now it’s up to employers like us to do our part. Education gives you knowledge, but not the hands on experience that only we can provide.

Sounds like a simple plan, doesn’t it? Well, I think Ronald Reagan says it best, “They say the world has become too complex for simple answers. They are wrong.”

What are your thoughts?