The U.S. labor market is currently at an inflection point. There are over ten million unfilled jobs with potentially tens of millions of workers who are unemployed or unhappily employed.
It can be argued that digital skills are missing in our existing ecosystem of post-secondary education and workforce development. Employers are seeking these skills that just aren’t taught often enough in colleges and universities across the country.
In the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s recent Talent Forward event, Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb and Infosys president Ravi Kumar spoke about the current state of the labor market, why employers should hire those without degrees, and the importance of hiring for technical aptitude.
Workers Are Leaving Jobs Due to Lack of Social Mobility
Kumar stated that the labor force shortage is largely dependent on the lack of potential job growth employees can receive from their current employer.
“One of the reasons why the great resignation is happening today... [is there are] industries where there is no upward mobility,” he explained. “Unless we create upward mobility, we are not going to live the American dream.”
“The only way that will happen is to build… infrastructure, hire on potential and allow people to flourish in enterprises and…. industries where [there’s] social mobility,” he continued.
“There's also this great reflection going on about what it is that I want to do with my life and that pyramid of poverty, level lower-middle-class, middle-class upper, middle-class all the way up to the affluent,” explained Governor Holcomb. “What we're trying to do is… [ask] how do we push people up that pyramid?”
Community Colleges and Those Without Degrees are Filled With Potential
Kumar highlighted the importance of tapping into community college graduates or those with associate degrees to train and provide them with the digital skills to excel in their industry.
“They have the potential to [transition to these] high skill jobs and digital jobs… as long as we actually re-skill them,” he said.
Governor Holcomb agreed that priorities need to shift in terms of who is able to take on available jobs with proper digital skills.
“We hear from so many employers who say, ‘I’ve got PhDs and four-year degrees working on projects that someone who just has the proper credential or certificate could fill’ and I'll hire another hundred folks with an associate's degree,” said Holcomb.
Employers Should Hire for Technical Aptitude
Both Kumar and Governor Holcomb noted it’s important to hire for technical aptitude rather than on skills alone as technology advances and more critical thinking skills are needed. Kumar went on to say that skills are short-lived compared to technical abilities.
“I would say tech is going to be more insourced because tech is so core...for any business,” said Kumar.
“You're hiring for technical aptitude, but you're not necessarily hiring for specific technical skills, because you're confident that you have the ability to train on those skills and make them productive,” he continued.
“Every sector is plus tech,” agreed Governor Holcomb. “And if you don't have that expertise, if you don't have that skill set, then you're competing against people who do.”
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