Many business leaders and most talent management professionals know that the demographic shifts that are happening now and are projected to happen in the next several years will impact every organization’s ability to meet its business goals. On top of demographic trends, education trends are also going in the wrong direction. Between 1997 and 2009 the U.S. position as a world leader in education has slipped from 4th to 11th, as an example.
According to Help Wanted: Projections of Jobs and Education Requirements through 2018, a report published by Georgetown University, the U.S. economy will create 46.8 million openings by 2018 – 13.8 million brand new jobs and 33 million “replacement” jobs,” positions vacated by workers who have retired or permanently left their occupation by 2018.
Good news for the economy and the working population of the U.S., right? Well, maybe.
Let’s peel back just one layer of the onion and look at what these new and replacement jobs will require. According to the Georgetown report, nearly 63% of these jobs will require workers with at least some college education.
This data projects that one-third of the new jobs will require a Bachelor’s degree or better and nearly 30% will require a two-year Associate’s degree or some college. Only 36% will require a high school diploma or less – and that percentage of all jobs continues to decline.
Here’s the challenge for employers, according to the Georgetown report: by 2018 the U.S. post-secondary education system will have produced 3 million fewer college graduates than required by the labor market. And what if the economy recovers faster than expected with greater job growth and greater Baby Boomer retirements? The delta gets even bigger.
Here’s where talent management professionals should be thinking creatively and strategically.
If the working population will not be educated enough for these 46 million new jobs, employers will have to be focused on educating them.
But how to begin? Individual employers, groups of employers (aligned geographically or by industry) will have to have a multi-faceted approach, but the cost effective bet is starting with their existing workforce. Organizations are going to have to educate their own workers and look to current best practice (tuition reimbursement programs, for examples) as well as innovate new approaches.
Strategic partnerships between employers and education institutions are beginning to create new education paradigms. But that won’t be enough. Other stakeholders will need to begin their involvement in educating the workforce: local and regional economic development organizations, local workforce boards, state departments of labor and education, professional associations, labor unions – all will begin to partner with employers to deliver the educated talent they need. Talent management leaders should be out in front on this issue, defining the skills outcomes required.
It’s clear that demand will outstrip supply in almost all occupational categories soon. The sooner talent acquisition professionals and learning/development professionals in organizations begin to work together on workforce planning and tackling the education deficit, the sooner the talent pipeline will begin to be prepared for 46 million new jobs.