Weekly Report – September 12, 2016

Workforce Development

On September 7th, the L.A. Coalition hosted Dr. Joseph Fuller, a professor of Management Practice at Harvard Business School and a leading researcher on workforce development, to share insights from his research on the skill gap.  Below is a recap of the key points Dr. Fuller shared with the group:

  • The lack of key skills is threatening the country’s economic competitiveness; this is not simply a CSR issue.
  • Attaining a college degree does not guarantee a job that requires it.  College educated workers that go into professions that do not require higher education tend to remain underemployed for the remainder of their careers.
  • Automation is not only eliminating routine jobs, but also cognitive roles, e.g. in customer service.
  • Up to 40 percent of jobs that exist today may go away in the next 30 years because of technological change, signifying that many of the jobs and skills that are relevant today will not betomorrow.
  • Employers, particularly small to mid-size employers, are not as sophisticated as they could be at sourcing and developing talent.  Employers can create a supply chain for talent by partnering with school districts, higher ed, etc. to define what workers needs and develop curriculums accordingly.
  • Research and experience shows that engaging students early, i.e. at the high school level, improves employment outcomes.  Opportunities to intern, exposure to college level work, and access to structured career counseling engages students’ interests and connects the dots between education and future employment.
  • Chattanoga, TN is a notable example of employers actively engaging in training the workforce.  Manufacturing employers work closely with local schools and set up a technical high school to train future employees.
  • The Long Beach College Promise is a notable example of effective pathway program.  The initiative is a commitment among three institutions of education (Long Beach USD, Long Beach City College, and Long Beach State) to ensure students are college and career ready.

Articles by Dr. Joseph Fuller

“The Right Thing To Do: Why More U.S. Firms Need to Learn from JP Morgan Chase.” The Hill (August 4, 2016).

“Why TPP Isn’t the Real Problem for American Jobs.” The Hill (February 8, 2016).

“Who’s Responsible for Erasing America’s Shortage of Skilled Workers?” Atlantic.com (September 22, 2015).

Additional Information

The mismatch between the skills employers need and the skills the labor force offers has received heightened focus in recent years, with evidence that the gap will become unsustainable without key stakeholders actively engaged in driving data driven solutions.  This “skill gap” has far reaching consequences, from limiting the growth prospects of employers to reducing the quality of life of the workforce.  Notable data points that demonstrate the skill gap has become a global issue include:

  • The World Economic Forum’s 2016 Future of Jobs report found that Chief Human Resource Officers at the world’s largest employers see significant churn between job families and functions within the next five years, impacting their ability to find employees with the right skills for new roles and priorities.
  • PwC’s 2016 Annual Global CEO Survey found that 72% of CEOs across industries believe that a shortage of key skills poses a significant threat to their organization’s growth prospects.
  • A 2014 Accenture survey of  800 Human Resources executives revealed that 56% found middle-skills jobs in particular- jobs that require more than a high school diploma, but less than a Bachelor’s degree – hard to fill, with 69% indicating that their inability to attract and retain middle-skills talent frequently affected their performance.

As the skill gap is very apparent in LA’s local economy, we will continue to publish on this topic in our future weekly reports, highlighting the professions and industries impacted and how we are working with our stakeholders to close the gap.  Please do reach out to our Deputy Director of Workforce Development, Leah Johnson, with suggestions and questions on this topic.  She can be reached by email at leah.johnson@thelacoalition.com or by cell at 646-309-9905.