Ara G. Michigan

Non-traditional Ways to Gain Workplace Skills

So many jobs go unfilled because Americans are not qualified for them. At a time when there is a seismic shift in our economy, people need ways to gain skills to make them successful in the workplace. Non-traditional ways like trade schools and on-the-job training should be utilized to train people who might otherwise be unemployed.

Dear future president,

“... So far [in 2016], for every job opening, about 30 people apply on average. Of those applicants, less than 20% meet the qualifications for the job, according to Corporate Executive Board, a research group” (Gillespie). This is a major problem. As a country, the US now has millions of job openings; however, we do not have enough skilled workers to fill these jobs. The problem is our economy is changing from producing goods to being service based. To address the growing number of unskilled workers who are unemployed or underemployed, the government should provide incentives for post-high school training through trade schools and on-the-job training programs that give people skills needed to be successful in today’s economy.

Manufacturing and other unskilled labor jobs are moving overseas to countries that are emerging, such as China, India, and Mexico, or being taken over by automation. Our economy is already industrialized, which means it is no longer profitable to manufacture all goods here. While some may argue that companies should bring back those unskilled and manufacturing positions for American workers, that makes little sense. Companies would lose profits, which would lower the number of jobs available, which would increase the price of goods. For the average American, it is not affordable to do this. When goods the average person needs, like toilet paper and toothpaste, go up in price, demand for those products go down. People will try to stretch what they have to make it last longer. Companies are then not selling as much, so they lay off workers to prevent losing more money. When people lose income, they don’t buy as much, continuing this vicious cycle. While manufacturing jobs have decreased, service-based jobs have drastically increased. “In place of those missing manufacturing jobs, the health-care and social assistance industries have nearly doubled in size, from 9.1 million in 1990 to just over 18 million today, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics” (Wilson). To take part in this service-based economy, people need new skills. As our economy changes, so should the way we think about skills in the workforce and the training to gain those skills. We need to go forward, not backward.

There are still manufacturing jobs today, but these require more skills and training because of technology used in the manufacturing process. According to Deloitte Analysis based on data from U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and Gallup Survey, “Over the next decade, nearly three and a half million manufacturing jobs likely need to be filled and the skills' gap is expected to result in 2 million of those jobs going unfilled” (qtd. in “The skills' gap in”). Skills for these jobs can be shown through certificates or licenses that do not have to be obtained through a traditional four-year college route. In fact, many of these skills can be learned in several weeks or months through a trade school or done while training on the job. These avenues are too often overlooked. With more qualified workers, 2 million more good-paying jobs that could be filled. There must be a shift in our culture to utilize many of these opportunities for people who find that a traditional college approach is not right for them. There are other ways to gain much-needed skills.

Overall, our federal and state governments should invest in incentives and opportunities for individuals to gain skills that will translate into direct success and employment in the workforce. Teaching people skills allows them to support themselves and their families in skilled jobs, which pay more. More income and less unemployment lead to stronger families, less crime, and fewer social problems. It is time to invest in our people for the future!


Ara Grant

Works Cited

Deloitte Development LLC. Accessed 4 Nov. 2016.

Gillespie, Patrick. "America's persistent problem: Unskilled workers." CNN Money, CNN, 7Aug. 2015, Accessed 31 Oct. 2016.

"The skills’ gap in US manufacturing: 2015 and beyond." , Manufacturing Institute and Deloitte,2015, Accessed 31 Oct. 2016.

Wilson, Reid. "Watch the U.S. transition from a manufacturing economy to a service economy,in one gif." The Washington Post3 Sept. 2014, Accessed 31 Oct.2016.