Tag Archives: STEM

Careers and Learning: a New Reality

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This, from Kelly, really hits the nail on the head:  “The last two decades have radically altered the way skills are acquired and developed. Skills are no longer “front-end loaded” onto a career. Rather, they are characterized by lifelong development and renewal. Most skill sets have a finite life.”

Skills are no longer “front-end loaded” onto a career.

But who recognizes this really? Employers who lament that they can’t find the skills they need in the workforce? Students who report being less than adequately prepared to enter the economy? Unemployed workers who can’t connect to a new employer?

Most skill sets have a finite life.

This has never been truer than today – and the “lives” will be getting shorter and shorter.

In their recent Global Workforce Index™ report, Career Development and Upskilling, Kelly looks at survey data from 120,000 people (workers, presumably) in 31 countries and has some very interesting data to share.

For example, most workers believe they are proficient in critical “soft skills” but Bilingual skills, Leadership/initiative and Creativity/innovation were all seen as needing development. Employees believe this of their skill sets. And most business leaders would not argue with these areas of deficit. Of note, however, is the belief on the part of employees that they have good mastery over the most critical “soft skills.” If true, perhaps learning budgets (such as they are) could be better deployed. If untrue, some challenging performance conversations need to be held!

Kelly Global Workforce Index April 2013 Critical SkillsOf course, in terms of the skills gap, most attention is being paid to STEM workers.  Interestingly, these workers believe that their proficiencies in the most important skills sets of Analytical/critical thinking, Evaluation, analysis and troubleshooting, and Complex problem solving are solid (no lack of self-esteem in this group). Where they might need development are in the more complex technical side of things: systems, computer, software and mathematics, calculations, measurement and monitoring.

Kelly Global Workforce Index April 2013 Critical STEM SkillsIf lifelong learning really is the reality, then self-driven learning will be key.

And if self-driven learning is key, then a realistic assessment of current skill levels and actual skill gaps will be critical. For everyone:  employers, employees, learning providers – everyone!

These observations based on their survey responses seem common sense and almost obvious. Almost. I think most business leaders – and HR professionals in particular – would agree with Kelly that skills are no longer front-end loaded onto careers. They’d also agree that most skills have a shelf life.

But it doesn’t appear that we’re approaching the answers to the skills gap as a systemic shift in the nature of careers. We’re approaching it as a simple supply vs. demand dynamic – if we approach it at all. Perhaps this data can shift the conversation and approach to a more useful and motivating discussion:  the nature of careers has shifted and so the nature of education and employment needs to shift as well.

Then we might make actual progress in addressing the perceived mismatch between the jobs available and the skills in the existing talent pool.

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Filed under Career Management, China Gorman, Data Point Tuesday, HR Data, Kelly Global workforce Index, Kelly OCG, Skills Gap, STEM

Tech Professionals’ Pay by the Numbers

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Dice, the career site for technology and engineering professionals, published their annual Tech Salary Survey in January. And as Chairman, President & CEO of Dice Holdings, Inc., Scot Melland observed, “The fact is you either pay to recruit or pay to retain and these days, at least for technology teams, companies are doing both.” The constant being pay.

According to the responses of 15,049 employed technology professionals between September 24 and November 16, 2012, tech professionals have garnered the biggest pay raise in a decade. The survey report is highly consumable and I recommend it to anyone involved with hiring or managing technology professionals.

The contents include:

  • 10-year trend in tech salaries
  • Salary by employment type
  • Bonus trends
  • Salary by metro and region
  • Tech employee motivators
  • Tech salary satisfaction
  • Salary by industry
  • Salary for high paying skills
  • Average salary by experience and education level

The last section, average salary by experience level, is eye popping. Check it out.

Dice Tech Salary Survey Education Level Salaries 2013-2012

First of all, we can tell by these salaries that STEM education pays off from a career opportunity perspective.

Second, we can tell by these salaries that the market perceives low supply.

Third, look at the high school graduates’ salary vs. vocational/tech school and some college salaries. What’s up with that?

Fourth, the year-over-year change in the salaries of military veterans vs. every other category is head snapping.

Let’s look at these observations.  First, I think we can all agree that there’s no downside to focusing on STEM education. No downside for employers who perceive low supply and no downside for employees whose lifetime earnings are among the highest.

Second, supply vs. demand economic principles seem firmly in charge of these salary trends. We can debate whether or not there truly are skills shortages in the marketplace today. But it seems clear that the market believes there is a shortage and is paying accordingly.

Third, as we consider the counter-intuitive data showing high school graduates earning significantly more on average than votech grads and some college/associates’ degree holders, we might be seeing generational effects coming in to play. More recent high school graduates may have more current hardware and programming learning than those who attended the votech programs of the 1970’s, 1980’s and 1990’s.  Certainly with the ability to connect to communities of interest via the social web, today’s high school students have a leg up on learning that their parents never had. Additionally, while employers aren’t spending the money they used to on internal training, technical training programs continue to be present.

Fourth, it appears that military veterans with current technology skills can enter the market at higher levels and command higher salaries. And I think we’d all agree that this is a very good thing.

This is a very useful snapshot of the salary landscape for a portion of our employees. Wouldn’t it be interesting to see the same data for other functional skillset areas? Like marketing, finance, or even HR?

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Filed under Average Wage, China Gorman, Compensation, Data Point Tuesday, Dice, Skills Shortage, STEM, Technology Salaries

You Think We Have Skills Shortages Now? Let’s Talk in 2020!

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Skills shortages in 2020 will rise to an entirely new level. And I’m not talking about STEM skills, although they’re critical. Or the ability to speak multiple parched earthlanguages, which needs to be more common in the U.S. Or even the readiness of college graduates to take a place in the economy, which a majority of employers report is lacking.

I’m talking about the skills that the globally-connected, superstructured, computationally focused, smart-machine powered organizations of the future staffed by longer living and working, new media using employees will require.

We’re all thinking about that right? We’re re-writing job descriptions and re-wording job postings to incorporate the emerging skills we know we’ll need. Aren’t we? Well, maybe not. We know the names of the skills we can’t get today – those STEM, analytical thinking, communication and personal responsibility/accountability skills we’re sure our young people don’t have.

But really. What about the skills for the future?  I’m not sure what we’ll call those skills. I’m not even sure they’re skills, to be honest, but here’s what I do know:

  • People are living longer and will want/need to have longer careers
  • Smart machines are taking over the most routine workplace tasks
  • Data – big, medium and small – are changing the way decisions are being made at every organizational level
  • Text isn’t the only way we communicate any more
  • Organization structures and behaviors are changing due to social technologies
  • We say “Global” but what that really mean is that innovation and growth will be primarily driven through the integration of differing cultural norms and diversity

IFTF LogoThe Institute for the Future’s Future Work Skills 2020 highlights recent research that predicts the kinds of skills for which we’ll be recruiting in 2020 (which is only 6 and-a-half years away). Trust me when I write that the majority of HR/recruiting professionals are not ready for this. ATSs aren’t ready for this. LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter aren’t ready for this. And clearly, our education infrastructure isn’t ready for this. And yet, here we are.

The IFTF identifies and defines ten skills that we need to begin to teach now so we can deploy them in six-and-a-half-years.  They are:

  1. Sense-making:  the ability to determine the deeper meaning or significance of what is being expressed
  2. Social Intelligence:  the ability to connect to others in a deep and direct way, to sense and stimulate reactions and desired interactions
  3. Novel & Adaptive Thinking:  proficiency at thinking and coming up with solutions and responses beyond that which is rote or rule-based
  4. Cross-cultural Competency:  ability to operate in different cultural settings
  5. Computational Thinking:  the ability to translate vast amounts of data into abstract concepts and to understand data-based reasoning
  6. New-media Literacy:  the ability to critically assess and develop content that uses new media forms, and to leverage these media for persuasive communication
  7. Transdisciplinarity:  literacy in and ability to understand concepts across multiple disciplines
  8. Design Mindset:  the ability to represent and develop tasks and work processes for desired outcomes
  9. Cognitive Load Management:  the ability to discriminate and filter information for importance, and to understand how to maximize cognitive functioning using a variety of tools and techniques
  10. 10.   Virtual Collaboration:  the ability to work productively, drive engagement, and demonstrate presence as a member of a virtual teaSocial intelligence (we call it EQ today, I think) and Cross-cultural Competency are certainly emerging in more sophisticated and global organizations currently. Perhaps we have a leg up with these two.

But have you ever seen a job description requiring Transdisciplinarity and a Design Mindset?

What kind of behavioral interview questions would you use to determine if a candidate has Cognitive Load Management and Novel/Adaptive Thinking Skills?

How would you Tweet those jobs? How would your careers page change?

And once onboard, how would you manage the performance of employees’ Virtual Collaboration and Sense-making?

And speaking of job descriptions and performance management, how will New-media Literacy and Social Intelligence change the very nature of these processes?

Whew! We think the current skills shortage is frustrating and scary. It could be that the future skills shortage will upend everything!

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Filed under Annual Performance Reviews, China Gorman, Data Point Tuesday, Hiring Difficulty, HR Data, Institute for the Future, Performance Management, Skills Shortage, STEM, Workforce Skills

Big Trouble in the Talent Pipeline

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I’m not generally big on infographics.  I find them self-serving and hard to read and digest.  Here’s an exception.  It’s called Unprepared for College and was posted on the College@Home.com blog.

I’ve written about the non-performance of the U.S. education system in preparing our future workforce here and here.  This infographic puts the issues front and center.  I don’t see how we can continually turn away from this data.

  • Half of all college students drop out before receiving a degree
  • 1 in 4 college freshman don’t complete their 1st year
  • Over half-a- million college freshman drop out every year

But wait.  It gets worse:

  • 80% of college freshman say high school is too easy but
    • 5 out of 10 college freshman can’t find New York or Ohio on a map of the U.S.
    • 9 out of 10 can’t find Afghanistan on a map of Asia
    • 3 out of 10 can’t find China on a globe
    • 4 out of 10 can’t find Israel, Iraq or Saudi Arabia
    • 7 out of 10 can’t find North Korea

And worse:

College@Home High School Readiness Benchmarks

And then there’s this:

  • 4 out of 5 students currently pursuing a math or science degree feel that their K-12 education did not prepare them for college
  • 2.2 million college freshman are learning high school material in college
  • 80% of students in remedial classes in college had a high school GPA of 3.0 or higher
  • 20% of freshman with a 4.0 high school GPA need remediation in math, English or both
  • And 8 out of 10 freshman believed they were ready for college when they graduated from high school

The bottom line?  Only 56% of students enrolled in a 4-year program receive a degree within 6 years.

So.  What are we doing about this?  Government can’t or won’t act.  We can blame teacher unions, local governments, state governments, the voting public, parents, the students themselves – but none of that helps solve the problem.

Seems to me that business in general – and HR specifically – needs to step up to the plate.  After all, we’re the ones most concerned with the unskilling of our populace.  We’re the ones who know the most about the kinds of skills we need today and the kinds of skills we’ll need tomorrow, and next month and in the years to come.  I think it’s up to us.  What do you think?

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Filed under China Gorman, College Graduation Rates, Connecting Dots, Education Deficit, High School Graduation Rates, Jobs for America's Graduates, Post-secondary education, STEM, Talent pipeline

HR Talent Shortage

SHRM has just released a new report in its series on The Ongoing Impact of the Recession. The current release focuses on the Manufacturing Industry.  Previous reports have focused on the Federal Government, State and Local Government and the Finance Industry.

This report clearly shows the continued strong degree of difficulty in hiring professionals with STEM education backgrounds – as well as mangers and executives, the skilled trades, sales professionals, HR professionals and accounting/finance professionals. It should come as no surprise to any business leader or talent management professional that finding professionals in the U.S. with STEM backgrounds is difficult.  The U.S. education infrastructure is not producing enough graduates in these disciplines. See my posts here and here.

It is surprising to note, however, that in addition to reporting a high degree of difficulty in finding STEM professionals and skilled trade workers, manufacturing employers are also having a difficult time finding managerial and executive talent, and sales, HR and accounting/finance talent.

Hmmmm.  A shortage of HR talent. Is this good or bad news?

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Filed under Education Deficit, Hiring Difficulty, HR, SHRM, STEM, Talent pipeline