At Skillpoint Alliance, our efforts focus on closing the skills gap in Central Texas. Although most headlines revolve around quantity and quality of jobs, it’s the skills gap that matters for our economic progress.
What is the ‘skills gap?’
In the words of Executive Director Margo Dover, Central Texas has jobs and Central Texas has the unemployed. Our businesses want to hire our residents; moving citizens from our counties and cities here hurts their bottom lines. The problem is that many unemployed Central Texans lack the qualifications and certifications to fill those positions.
Consider this: in 2010, with unemployment around 8 percent, more than half of U.S. employers reported that they had trouble filling positions.
There are many reasons for this disparity. Workers who spent the majority of their career at one company were laid off without the certifications required to find a similar position at another company. The pace of technological change left workers without computer skills behind. Jobs became obsolete, so those workers’ skills were as well.
How can we fix it?
Skillpoint Alliance is working to solve the skills gap with a multi-generational approach in Central Texas. Our organization has always listened and adapted: listening to the business community and adapting our programs and curriculum to meet that challenge. Two industry council, the Adult Workforce Council and the STEM Council, include roughly 180 business and community partners who are an indispensable asset in our efforts to close the skills gap. We are using our programs to:
- Transition adults with barriers to employment into jobs employers need today— Closing today’s skills gap means working with disadvantaged adults to get them on the path to meaningful employment. There are too many adults with too much potential to languish in a minimum wage position. There are jobs employers need in the Construction, Nursing, Office Administration, HVAC and Electrical fields today. Our Adult Workforce programs (Gateway, Empower and NEXT) ensures that adults can pursue an opportunity in those fields.
- Introduce K-12 to fields projected to experience rapid growth— According to the Economics & Statistics Administration, jobs in science, technology, engineering and math will grow by 18 percent from 2010-2020. By contrast, non-STEM jobs will grow by 9.8 percent. Our STEM Council programs introduce Central Texas students to the excitement of STEM careers with project-based learning opportunities in Robotics, GreenTech and Digital Media. As Central Texas continues is path to becoming the Silicon Valley of the South, this work ensures it will be powered by our high school and college graduates.
Where do you come in?
You tell us. Skillpoint Alliance has a number of volunteer opportunities available to committed and inspiring community members. Join us in solving the critical issues facing our economy!