What employers really want? Workers they don’t have to train

I do teach a number of very practical courses, but my overall goal as a teacher is not to train students to use any particular software that might be in demand; rather, my goal is to train students to solve problems, deal with the unexpected, etc. Those skills will help them get internships, which in turn will give them the practical experience employers want.

Nervous job candidates.More companies are hiring from the outside rather than growing their own talent from within. This in turn has led to declining tenure among employees, who are more willing to jump ship. The real challenge we face is that if everyone is hiring for the ability to do a job, rather than for the potential to do it well, how does anyone get that initial experience?

Unfortunately, a great many policymakers have bought the skills gap view. Their conclusion is that we should make schools more responsible for training job applicants. Several state legislatures, for example, have been considering proposals to push college students into majors where employers want to hire.

We should rethink this fast. Schools are not good at providing what employers want, which is work-based skills and experience. Instead, employers need to be much more involved, not just in telling schools what they want but in providing opportunities for new grads to get work experience and learn the relevant expertise. We need a different approach: one where employers are not just consumers of skills, but are part of the system for producing them. —The Washington Post.

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