Skills Gap 5 – The Future is Here
In the late 1980s, circuit card design shifted from a paper based process to an automated one. One day, Electronic Engineers once worked with a draftsman to do board layouts on blueprint paper. The next, design was calculated by a machine.
Senior engineers and first line supervisors found themselves without a map of the new territory. All of the vectors that defined work one day were invalid the next. A trench level employee who looked like he (there weren’t very many shes) was slacking off might actually be waiting for the machine to finish processing. Hard work involved sitting still when it once involved extensive use of a slide rule.
In the early days, work problems were blamed on the trench level employees. Sh#t flows downhill. Ultimately, it turned out that the older more experience folks had no way to make sense of the new world. Replacements happened quickly. The old guard was kept around for their wisdom just long enough for the youngsters to get tired of the war stories.
A significant part of what is called a skills shortage has a similar dynamic.
As agile technology filters through the various departments of the company, old hierarchical management types are becoming redundant. The new approach, which is anti-legacy, anti-hierarchy and anti-assumption doesn’t produce familiar assurances of certainty. Right now, part of the apparent skills gap is old school managers looking for the smarty-pants who will tell them that 2 + 2 = 5.
There is also a real shortage of confidence.
All work is becoming at least partly technical. No job, with the exception of the very most menial, gets through the workday without some level of computer engagement. As the price of smartphone plummets, everyone will have better tools than the company.
Some of the solution is a new kind of trust. Anyone who can navigate the transition from DVD to BluRay to Streaming is more than capable of mastering technology that looks like it takes formal training. We’re going to start to expect that.
In the late 1970s, the countryside was dotted with Technical Schools that taught computer programming and other technical skills. Many of those graduates found their way onto key technical slots. The STEM shortage of the time was often solved with field promotions and the use of people who had enough skills to start the training.
The pace of technology is rapidly accelerating. This problem, not having people readily available to use current technology, will grow and grow over the coming decade. While the answers aren’t clear, you can be sure that new training and learning forms will evolve to solve it.
This is where the real skills shortage lives.
Read the series
- Skills Gap 1: The Hiring Paradox
- Skills Gap 2: Outsourcing
- Skills Gap 3: The Pace of Change
- Skills Gap 4: Undercapitalization
- Skills Gap 5: The Future is Here