25 to 3. That was the score of my Sunday night league softball game. My team scored the 3 runs. For the last few years we’ve been in or near the basement when it came to the final standings. It’s frustrating because I know the reason for this endless mediocrity. We have a skills gap.
The team is made up of a number of highly skilled players…and almost as many who are virtual novices at the game. We don’t have anyone in between.
The American labor force has a skills gap. It’s the gap between the technical-based skills needed by businesses and the skill sets possessed by American workers. It’s especially apparent in the heavy equipment and dirt moving industries. It’s also keeping these industries from “moving up in the standings.”
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The Associated Equipment Distributors (AED) Foundation commissioned a report from graduate students in the College of William & Mary Program in Public Policy. The recently released report focuses on Career and Technical Education (CTE) which is one of the main sources for skilled labor.
The study found that in the past two decades, high school CTE program offerings have collapsed. One of the main reasons for this has been the difficulty in finding qualified teachers. The report summary says, “Between 1994 and 2004, approximately 2.7 million teachers left the career and technical teaching field, while only 2.25 million were hired to fill the positions. It is estimated that public school teacher turnover costs the nation over $7.3 billion per year. While student demand for CTE courses has increased, many teacher education programs have been terminated.”
You can find the AED Foundation report here.
The president and CEO of Associated Equipment Distributors issued a statement regarding President Trump’s recent signing of an executive order regarding apprenticeships and a focus on addressing the nation’s skilled worker shortage.
The statement says:
“AED commends President Trump for his leadership to address the nation’s skills gap and making educating the next generation of skilled workers a top priority. Businesses, schools, and government officials must collectively commit to tackling the technical workforce shortage at all levels. The president’s executive order allowing greater industry involvement and direction in developing and implementing apprenticeship programs is a positive step.
“The skilled worker shortage costs construction equipment dealers approximately $2.4 billion per year in lost revenue and economic activity. Pairing work-based learning opportunities with federal policies that better reflect current workforce needs while empowering state and local entities will help resolve the industry’s skilled worker deficiency, allowing AED members to better serve customers while growing their businesses and the overall economy. We look forward to working with the Trump administration and Congress to prepare workers for well-paying careers, ensure that U.S. companies are able to seize new business opportunities, and make the United States more competitive in the global economy.”
Let’s hope that executive order can find a lot of education funding. Otherwise, in softball vernacular, it’s the bottom of the sixth and we’re down a couple dozen runs.