Have you heard of the term “skills gap”? In its most basic form, the skills gap refers to a divide between the traits and training that employers are looking for in new hires, and the abilities that many employees in today’s market actually have. Specifically, the skills gap applies to many careers in growing STEM-related fields. STEM, or science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, refers to the core education that is required for many new skills in today’s job market.
A smaller skills gap can also be found in fields that require advanced leadership skills or occupational skills, especially those that require training from a master to be passed on with great success.
Consider these four ways to bridge the skills gap, and the likelihood of becoming redundant, or being seen as less valuable by an employer, will be reduced.
Whether you are interested in a new career, a long-time employee in the same field, or a fresh graduate in an office job, one of the best ways that you can in sure you do not fall victim to the skills gap is by staying current on what is happening in your industry. If you start hearing buzzwords and aren’t sure what they mean, ask or do some research. If free tutorials are available online (which many are), take advantage of them. Keep up-to-date with the latest news about what you can expect next in your field and figure out ways that you can stay relevant.
Have an attitude that you can achieve this new skill or master this new concept. Know that you are capable of learning new skills. If it’s your first year on the job and you feel disgruntled because your knowledge is already a little outdated, remain encouraged! You don’t have that much to catch up on.
If you have been in a career for a longer period and feel stuck, or concerned that there are too many new skills to learn, ask someone to help you. Don’t be afraid to use the free resources that many libraries offer. STEM learning is a big trend in the United States Department of Education, and many public libraries are equipped with labs that can help people just like you get a grasp on the new skills that they need to acquire to be successful employees in 2016 and moving forward.
Many employers will offer reimbursement for tuition, and will pay for certifications. Some might even send you back to school at accredited colleges and universities to acquire skills and advanced degrees.
Inquire about what furthering education opportunities your company offers. If you don’t like what they offer, look into some other companies. See if they would offer a competitive advantage for you to come work for them.
Having the opportunity to learn the newest skills available to you will make you more marketable, whether you are you staying in your current position or interested in moving on to a new role. Employee retention is always cheaper than turn over, though – so you can use that bargaining chip when talking to your employer about potential educational opportunities.
Everything you know now was once unknown. When a new technology or system seems overwhelming, just remember this. The sooner you get started on your new task of brushing up your skills, the better off you’ll be. Every step in the right direction will benefit your improving skills overall, whether you’re reading a blog post or performing a hands-on experiments. Just get started!