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Closing the Skills Gap

This article is part one of two in a series introducing a new feature of the Highlands Career Exploration report, coming March 2020.

There is a skills gap in the American workforce. Jobs are available and recruiters are looking for talent, but increasingly they are not finding it within the ranks of new graduates from U.S. institutions. Alarmingly, over 90% of CEOs see the skills gap, a result of our nation’s neglect of effective career development, as a serious problem.

“While our nation has invested hundreds of billions of dollars in improving education, we have devoted relatively few resources to providing quality career development: the process that helps individuals establish career and life goals and then develop the skills needed to pursue personalized career pathways…” Coalition for Career Development, Career Readiness for All (Spring 2019).

This growing crisis can no longer be ignored. Too many young people have a degree but no sense of direction and no notion about the type of work for which they are best suited. Even those who stick it out and complete a higher education degree are floundering. They need direction and a concrete career path in order to bridge the gap between education and career readiness.

Finding the right career fit through self-exploration and then mapping out the best pathway to that career has not been emphasized enough in U.S. education, and now it’s time to address the gap.

In response to the crisis, the Coalition for Career Development held a summit in September of 2018 involving some 200 leaders from education, business, government, and philanthropy. Their resulting white paper, Career Readiness for All, proposes a way to address the crisis. Their solution is focused on making career readiness the first priority of American education. The white paper elaborates a process that would help individuals establish career and life goals and to then develop the skills needed to pursue personalized career pathways.

The Coalition articulates Five Pillars as part of its proposed solutions framework, one of which is “Providing Professional Career Advising.” They argue that professional career advising is necessary in order to ensure that schools and post-secondary institutions make career development a central priority.

The importance of career advising is also being recognized by the government. Recent legislation proposed through the Counseling for Career Choice Act would provide grants to states to implement statewide career counseling to better prepare students for educational and career opportunities. “Empowering students with the tools to succeed starts with making well informed decisions,” said Congressman Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson (R-PA).

Highlands Certified Consultants are Equipped to Address the Skills Gap

The Highlands Company stands poised and ready to help support this challenge. The proprietary Highlands Ability Battery (HAB) provides a rock solid starting place for students to begin the career exploration process by discovering their natural abilities (the things they naturally do well). The HAB provides an objective and scientific report that details actionable guidance.

Highlands Certified Consultants (HCCs) have extensive training on interpreting the results of the HAB and showing clients how to work to their strengths. The feedback consultation given by an HCC trained to counsel students to understand the work roles in which they would excel is the differentiator and one of the reasons the HAB has lasting effects. (To read more about the importance of feedback following an assessment, as well as a look at the content included with the HAB, click here.) The results of the HAB are not simply meant to be read and filed away; rather, they serve as a blueprint and reference guide that is relevant throughout a person’s life.

Coming in March 2020, the Highlands Career Exploration report will provide even greater career alignment and direction in matching clients with best-fit careers. In addition to career recommendations based on a person’s unique pattern of abilities, Highlands will release a new career matching tool developed in partnership with a team of scientists from HumRRO, the organization that refines the Occupational Network known as the O*NET. Stay tuned for more details regarding this exciting development.

There doesn’t have to be a gap for our students between receiving an education and being ready for a skilled career. With access to knowledgeable career counselors and cutting edge tools that match a person’s natural abilities with specific careers, students can enter the workforce with confidence and purpose.

The Highlands Company is the sole publisher of the Highlands Ability Battery™ (HAB). Administered online, the HAB is an aptitude assessment that objectively measures one’s natural talents through timed, performance-based worksamples. Since 1992, tens of thousands of individuals have taken the HAB for career guidance and development, gaining insight into their natural strengths and applying that insight across a lifetime for greater career satisfaction. To learn more about The Highlands Company, click here.

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