We’ve Got Skills – They’re Multiplyin’

Catalyst is going back to school this month, and we are continuing our education in eLearning through a new lens. Building on our 2014 research on K-12 and higher education and our recent content report, our most recent research note and market map explore  how innovative businesses are filling the skills gap with cost-effective training content and services.

The “skills gap”, the gulf between the demand and supply of skilled labor, presents a problem for employers. Generally the gap emerges from the ever-changing technology underpinning most professions. The education and training market adapts slowly to emerging technologies, leaving workers unable to learn new skills mid-career or enter the workforce at an attractive wage. Bridging the gap won’t require sending more high-schoolers to four-year colleges, but rather finding inexpensive means to supply workers with job-specific training pre- or mid-career.

Since the Recession, the U.S. labor market has been characterized by underemployment and slow wage growth despite open positions in attractive roles. In its annual survey of employers, the Manpower Group found that 32% of U.S. employers had trouble filling vacancies last year. Worldwide, the greatest gaps appear in the skilled trades, sales, and engineering spaces.

The divide is widest for “middle-skills” positions. High-skill positions, those requiring an advanced degree, tend to pay well and as a result enjoy enduring student demand and sufficient supply from public and private institutions. Low-skilled workers, meanwhile, require less training since the jobs are less specialized. In the middle are salaried positions for which the pool of qualified candidates falters when the technology enabling certain roles evolves.

For example, consider how the skillsets of marketers, graphic designers, and programmers have evolved in the Internet age. Marketers who used to focus on media buying have had to shift to purchasing specific audiences with the advent of digital, graphic designers have morphed into user experience experts, and programmers have absorbed a new language every few years to avoid obsolescence.

In healthcare, advanced manufacturing, and information technology, industries adapting to technological innovation, unmet demand for trained middle-skill workers is especially acute. Innovative tech-enabled companies are beginning to provide solutions without subjecting workers to the expense of traditional credit programs. Cognotion, for instance, allows healthcare employers to cost-effectively train entry-level employees to address shortages in nurse’s assistants and other roles. Similarly, Mosaic provides workforce training to the utilities and oil & gas industries through a combination of traditional instructor-based learning, online instruction, and informal learning.

Catalyst’s latest research report explores the role tech-enabled training providers play in helping workers build and maintain their abilities through IP-delivered content and services. At Catalyst, we employ a proactive, research-based approach to investing, targeting sectors experiencing outstanding growth. If you are a growth-stage continuing education company seeking investment, our team would like to hear from you. Please send inquiries and business plans to [email protected].

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