Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Trainers, Employers Both Responsible for Skills Gap, Speaker Says

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Trainers, Employers Both Responsible for Skills Gap, Speaker Says

Article excerpt

The skill gap is real, according to the CEO of a company that studies the labor market, but some employers are making it worse by asking for more training than most employees need.

Matthew Sigelman, CEO of Burning Glass Technologies, spoke Wednesday at the Kansas Workforce Summit. His company analyzes job markets by collecting millions of job postings and resumes, looking for inefficiencies and gaps between skills workers have and those employers want.

Problems matching workers and companies stem from incorrect information and assumptions on multiple sides, Sigelman said: workers and the agencies that train them often don't understand what employers actually need, and companies ask for credentials that may not actually show workers have the right skills.

States need to look most at how those problems apply to middle- skill jobs -- those that require something more than a high school diploma but less than a four-year degree -- Sigelman said. In 2014, employers posted 73,298 middle-skill jobs in Kansas, and more than 50 percent of them were in relatively high-paying areas such as health care, technical sales and information technology, he said.

Middle-skill jobs apparently were difficult to fill in many fields, since most categories had an average time to fill a job of 40 days or more, Sigelman said. Subfields like production jobs in the aerospace industry had an even more difficult time because many potential workers weren't trained on the specific skills needed to make the airplane parts commonly assembled in Kansas, he said.

"If employers are starved for talent, that is a threat to the future of the aerospace industry in Kansas," he said.

Another example is medical coding, Sigelman said. There is strong job growth in that field and many people have gone through training programs, but if the program doesn't allow them to earn one of two relevant certificates, they aren't employable.

"There's a pipeline (of employees), but it's leaking," he said. …

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