I wanted to share something interesting from a book I recently read. Employers really are hiring more for niche technology skills than they are for general knowledge. This fact was proven in an interesting study conducted by the search firm, Career Builder, and outlined in the book, The Talent Equation. The study consisted of two parts. In the first part, the Career Builder team asked Hiring Managers what qualifications they believed that their “ideal candidate” would possess. The Hiring Managers answered this way: The person would be a team player, critical thinker, and have broad general knowledge.
Next, in the second part of the study, the Career Builder team did a critical analysis of the candidates who were actually being hired by these Hiring Managers. They found that contrary to what they were told, the hiring was for niche technology skills. The managers were bypassing candidates who didn’t posses those skills, and it was not uncommon for a job to remain unfilled for sometimes months until a person who possessed the exact required skills was located. Here is an interesting quote from the book:
“To be fair, even in healthy economic times, hiring managers have expressed the wish for a more talented labor pool, but never to this extent. Many of the open jobs hiring managers refer to require skills in new technologies that have no established internal training programs for new hires to attend. In some cases, companies have eliminated their training departments altogether. The survey found that a lack of technology skills is a primary roadblock to hiring candidates, but few companies actually invest in the training of these skills.” (p. 20)
There needs to be more of an effort to teach young (and older) Americans more technology skills. Schools are doing a poor job with this. There needs to be more on-the-job training, more internships, and more apprenticeships. You can’t learn to ride a bike in a classroom, and you can’t learn most other skills this way either. You have to learn by doing; you have to practice, and you have to learn in a real-world context. Some skill training alongside classroom based “knowledge” learning will produce a true 21st century learner. The time is now!