Experts agree. Despite a national unemployment rate of 5.0%, employers are struggling to fill a growing number of jobs.
Speaking at a recent business breakfast sponsored by Express Employment Professionals, Kevin Stotts, CEO of West Michigan's Talent 2025, reported that the workforce shortage is due to a constellation of factors including:
-Previously unemployed workers who have elected to not return to the workforce.
-Baby boomers exiting the workforce and beginning retirement.
-Increasing national competition for talent.
-Lack of academic and soft-skill (character) preparedness of students poised to enter the workforce.
Talent 2025 is comprised of a team of advisors and researchers supported by 100 business leaders representing over 75,000 employees and industries across 13 West Michigan counties. Established in 2010, Talent 2025 serves to illuminate performance gaps, evaluate solutions and advocate for leading practices.
As expressed by Mr. Stotts', it's clear that employers and educators need to work together on developing solutions to support the need for a more prepared, robust, and sustainable workforce. While STEM skills preparation and post-secondary training, certification and higher education will be increasingly important, so will attainment of the character skills necessary to engage in training, pursue vocational goals and effectively participate in the workplace culture.
The illuminating work of Talent 2025 underscores the need for developing innovative solutions aimed at helping middle school students prepare for the workforce, and the research is clear that character skills are essential to a student's ability to acquire the academic skills and interpersonal skills vital to success in today's workplace and ultimately the communities in which they live.