Skills Gap 3: The Pace of Change
If you are reading this, you most likely have a smartphone in your pocket or on your desk. That phone has the processing capacity of a late 1980s Cray computer. They were the fastest machines of the time. It took six of them to operate the NSA.
Next year’s phone will be twice as powerful. The doubling in capacity/performance will continue every 18 months to two years for the foreseeable future. By 2020, computing power will be 1 Billion times as powerful as it was in the mid 1960s.
We’ve gotten used to the parade of technology and the way it rapidly becomes primitive looking.
By the time they turn 21, anyone born after 1980 has an average of 10,000 hours playing video games. In that process, they master patience, the willingness to voluntarily do hard work, learning from progressive failure, collaboration, concentration, the use of focus. They experience instantaneous feedback, engagement and the joy of accomplishment.
We haven’t begun to figure out how to harness either that trained workforce or the technology they bring with them to work. We live in an era where every employee has better technology in their pockets than the company offers as a part of the job.
It’s the combination of the relentless rush of technology and our collective failure to harness the ready made workforce that account for the largest dynamic in the skills gap: there are very few jobs left that are not technical to some degree. Every worker must interact with technology to get their jobs done. But, the workforce is not trained in those specific skills
The gap is the distance between the training hey have and the work that needs to be done. The gap grows logarithmically every two years. It’s out of control and getting worse.
Part of the trouble is that supervisors, managers and executives often do not understand how the work is done. That makes it hard to understand the investment required to convert raw human capital into the worker needed on the job.
As technology spirals beyond our control, it feels like somebody must have made a mistake. Some blame the school system, some blame the generation of video gamers. You don’t see many executives blaming themselves and trying to figure out what they did wrong.
That’s due in part to the generation’s view of performance. Boomers and GenXers came of age in a time when there were right answers and explicit career paths. Failure was never really discussed. The boss was the boss and his plan was a vision.
Contemporary workers, who have learned how to learn through progressive failure, don’t behave like that. The boss has to prove his or her worth. Failure is central to progress.
The faster technology moves, the more it exacerbates the differences between these two camps.
It’s easier to call it a Skills Shortage than to call it Managerial Incompetence.
Read the series