Industryweek 13310 Skills Gap2

Why College is not the Only -- or the Best -- Solution to Bridging the Skills Gap

Oct. 28, 2015
To bridge the nation's skills gap, the Republican presidential hopefuls--and their Democratic counterparts--must think beyond the promises of providing access to a college education.

Later tonight, Republican presidential hopefuls will gather in Boulder, Colo., to once again debate and outline their plans for a better America.

In addition to the usual hot-button issues like the need for stronger national security and healthcare, we can expect attention will also be paid to providing better access to quality secondary education so future generations will have more and better job opportunities.

I would argue that the conversation should expand beyond the promise of a free college education. Not everyone is cut out for college. And that’s ok, because not every available job requires a college degree.

In fact, when you look at the industries that are struggling to find qualified candidates because of the “Skills Gap,” you find that many of the country’s most in-demand jobs don’t require a 4-year college investment. And the Skills Gap -- the inability of employers to find enough candidates with the right hands-on skills to fill critical roles in the automotive industry, manufacturing, healthcare, skilled trades and more -- is getting wider and wider with every passing year.

"... the American workforce will need to add more than 290,000 welder jobs alone by the year 2020…and that’s just to keep pace with a wide variety of manufacturing and industrial needs."                              -- Scott Shaw, President & CEO Lincoln Technical Institute

In the welding industry, for example, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics expects that hiring managers will need to add more than 75,000 new welders in just the next seven years.

Some trade organizations put that number even higher, closer to 300,000 -- and that’s just to keep pace with a wide variety of manufacturing and industrial needs.  

The skills needed to launch rewarding, critical welding careers aren’t things students can learn in a four-year college -- but institutes like Lincoln Tech are actively working every day to train students on exactly the skills they need to fill these roles and keep the welding industry robust and competitive.

A lack of qualified welding candidates, if unchecked, may slow growth not only in construction sectors like residential, industrial, aerospace, civil engineering and more; it can also impact fields like automotive collision repair -- a field which relies heavily on specialized welding skills.

With more than 35,000 technicians expected to be hired in this field in the next seven years, we as a nation can’t afford to not properly train the next generation of welding professionals.

Likewise, an aging population of retiring baby boomers is creating a need for hands-on automotive technicians, HVAC professionals, medical technicians and other technical specialists across the country.

In all, more than 3 million positions are expected to become available around the country by 2022 in fields you can train for at schools like Lincoln Tech. 

During tonight’s debate, Lincoln Tech will step up to the plate and open up the Skills Gap discussion to a larger audience with a sixty-second commercial which not only raises awareness of the need to close the Gap, but also provides a solution to the problem. 

This spot will also speak to Lincoln’s mission: to advance the science, technology and application of trade skills to our students by providing them with the tools and hands-on knowledge required to help overcome the technical skills gap now facing our country’s most important industries.

Those skilled in the trades work hard every day, fixing, building, mending, welding, taking apart and putting things back together and doing it all over again the next day. And until qualified people are trained to fill the vacancies caused by these retirements and increased demands, the “Skills Gap” will remain to be a target that can’t be reached.

Lincoln Tech is committed to skills-based education. We would encourage our national leaders to make that same commitment.

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