About 36 percent of Americans age 25 and older have earned at least a bachelor’s degree. They’re less likely to be unemployed and more likely to earn more money than people who have completed less, or no, postsecondary education. For a long time, these realities have made a college credential seem like one of the most promising pathways to career and financial security, despite the barriers and potholes that sometimes mar that road.
Employers are increasingly seeking candidates with discrete sets of specific – increasingly digital – skills who are ready to be productive on day one. Meanwhile, colleges and universities continue to focus on the capabilities they recognize in their most successful graduates: critical thinking, problem solving, and communication skills. The primary roadblock to economic opportunity – to rekindling the American Dream – is the vast and growing distance between employers and colleges. It’s no exaggeration to say employers are from Mars and colleges are from Venus.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had an impact on all of us; on our societies and economies and on every aspect of our lives. Employment and education are some of the hardest hit by the crisis, due to lockdowns and measures taken by governments to prevent the spread of the virus and its devastating consequences.
The Federal Election is still more than 18 months away, but Labor Leader Anthony Albanese sent a clear pitch to locals last week: an elected Labor will invest in skill shortages in the west. Mr Albanese attended the Lendlease Skilling & Employment Centre in St Marys last Thursday, alongside Senator Tony Sheldon to acknowledge that training and jobs are critical to Australia’s economic recovery.
A billion-dollar JobTrainer fund will support up to 340,700 additional free or low-fee training places “in areas of genuine need”. The fund will be targeted not just at school leavers, but also workers in need of retraining or upskilling.
More than 200,000 jobs remain vacant in Australia due to a lack of skills, according to a report from the nation’s leading training group. “They’ve got skills, but they’re not the skills employers are looking for,” WPC Group CEO Andrew Sezonov said. “So we’ve got people without jobs and jobs without people. “That’s what we call the skills mismatch.”
BHP has announced it will invest nearly A$800 million over the next five years in Australian jobs and the mining, equipment, technology and services (METS) sector.