Workforce Research – Issues uncovered and solutions identified

Workforce Research – Issues uncovered and solutions identified

Over the past several years, SRA has conducted in-depth qualitative interviews and extensive quantitative employer surveys around the country in a wide variety of industry clusters, including:

  • Aviation and aerospace
  • Broadband
  • Clean technology
  • Energy
  • Healthcare
  • Homeland security and defense
  • Information technology
  • Life sciences
  • Logistics and distribution
  • Transportation infrastructure
  • Water

As part of this work, we have discovered several facts.

A consistent set of issues were encountered across all industries.

While employers need workers with specific sets of skills for their individual industries, they all face several similar issues with education and training received by younger workers. Employers saw room for improvement in the educational system in terms of preparing students for careers. They reported the skill sets missing for younger workers include:

  • Critical/analytical thinking
  • Creative problem solving
  • Communication
  • STEM skills
  • Soft skills

However, there are also generational issues which come into play.

Unlike many older workers who define themselves by their jobs, many younger employees work to live rather than live to work. Younger workers will likely change jobs and careers many times over the course of their lives and are strongly aligned with the use of technology.

The research indicated that young workers use different methods of communication which contributes to the perception among older workers that these younger workers lack communication and soft skills. Younger workers use technology to communicate, while older workers tend to communicate verbally. These differing styles can complicate teamwork and need to evolve so the skills and talent from older and younger workers can be melded into a common success.

Today’s jobs also require employees with many talents.

Workers at all levels are not only required to possess the technical skills to do their job, but also need to possess business, interpersonal, and information technology skills. This ability to engage with others, deliver customer service and sell, along with the necessary technical abilities to do their jobs, are necessary for employers to maintain the levels of productivity they need to stay competitive.

One solution is collaboration and employers having more skin in the game regarding training.

There is an opportunity for educational systems and employers to be more collaborative. Employers suggested they can see a benefit in educational institutions working together and treating employers, rather than students, as their customer. It was suggested that educational institutions should also look for ways to work together toward a common goal of delivering talent to employers rather than being in competition with each other.

However, it was also clear that employers need to understand they cannot rely exclusively on schools to train workers, as jobs are too specific/niche oriented in many areas. They need to be willing to spend the time and money to teach workers the specific skills they need for their particular companies rather than expecting educators to hand them custom trained talent.

About SRA Research Group

SRA Research Group is a solution-based consultancy with the vision for our clients to deliver – Strategy, Results and Achievement – since our founding 30 years ago in 1985. Our firm provides research services and support to organizations to help employers, educators and workforce organizations understand workforce talent needs and issues. We are a trusted partner that helps frame issues, develop solutions, and refine opportunities.

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