The Growing Technological Skills Gap in the Wake of the Fourth Industrial Revolution

The Growing Technological Skills Gap in the Wake of the Fourth Industrial Revolution

Are Apprenticeships an Answer?

We have faced three industrial revolutions, and, according to the World Economic Forum, a Fourth Industrial Revolution is imminent. On the coat tails of the Third Industrial Revolution of 1969, which brought us mass production, this next phase is a technological revolution, described as “the advent of ‘cyber-physical systems’ involving entirely new capabilities for people and machines.”

Ushering in this evolution are exciting transformational technologies – artificial intelligence, the ‘Internet of Things’, Big Data, 3D printing – some of which we have already begun to embrace, and others we have yet to fully realize or comprehend.

But with massive labor shortages in critical IT areas, educational systems that have fallen behind the rest of the world, and corporations that have slashed training budgets, are 21st century companies in the US really prepared for this coming revolution?

The World Economic Forum’s The Future of Jobs Employment, Skills and Workforce Strategy for the Fourth Industrial Revolution explores the profoundly shifting landscape. Transformative technologies, creating major disruption to traditional business models, will have “a significant impact on jobs, ranging from significant job creation to job displacement, and from heightened labor productivity to widening skills gaps.”

So how can the IT industry – paradoxically at the forefront of digital disruption, yet struggling to fill vital roles in emerging technologies – keep up?

According to The Manpower Group’s 2016/2017 Talent Shortage Survey, the global shortage in IT talent has jumped from seventh to second position, with nearly 600,000 IT openings in the US alone. And, as technological disruption advances, this gap will continue to widen.

One fundamental change necessary to close the widening talent gap is the modernization of an apprenticeship system.  The apprenticeship workforce model — developed following the first industrial revolution — successfully altered attitudes toward training for the most formative industries of that era.   And, it can serve the same purpose, today.

Modernization of the apprenticeship model involves, first and foremost, adjusting perceptions about how we recruit, train, and advance our workers for today, and the future. Progressive IT companies are already thinking and acting differently to reinvent staffing and training practices. Industry leaders are retooling training budgets to accommodate apprenticeship programs, and working directly with secondary educators to develop real-life accredited on the job course curriculums as a proactive means to widen their talent pool.

As we learned from our second and third industrial revolution predecessors, a well-planned and executed apprenticeship program is an opportunity to discover talent in hidden pockets, reduce recruitment costs, and retain teams of loyal employees.  Apprenticeships represented an earn-while-you-learn model that worked to bolster one revolution, and could be the answer to supporting the next one.


Join the movement. Learn how your company can prepare for the coming revolution. Contact Franklin Apprenticeships.

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