According to estimates made not so long ago, a significant percentage of people under 25 are either unemployed or underemployed, portraying a rather dismal scenario of those who are the newest members of the workforce. While it's easy to assume that there aren't enough jobs for the job seekers which turns out to be a true assumption as well, equally true is the fact that we also have a skills gap. The frustration of the employers is quite evident, as there are jobs waiting to be filled, but the current job seekers just don't have the right skills. There seems to be a clear disconnect between how the educators and the employers perceive college graduates' preparedness. So the question arises: do our colleges prepare today's graduates adequately for an increasingly competitive and dynamic work environment? It's a glaring fact that most of our traditional educational institutions aren't geared for a rapidly changing market that witness quick skill depreciation. Universities failed to keep pace with changing industry requirements as they could not change curricula and introduce new classes as per the requirement. This problem has been compounded by the fact that the current job market trends have changed drastically as compared to 25 years ago. Education today is not just going through kindergarten to college, but is a constant evolutionary process wherein workers need to train and educate themselves non-stop, until retirement, to stay relevant.

How to Close the Skills Gap

It's possible to close the skills gap with the collaboration of job seekers and employers. Job seekers, irrespective of whether they are more fresh or experienced workers, should take own initiative in their skill development and education. Nowadays, many of them are already taking advantage of online courses which are perfect for the digitally smart, mobile-savvy student of the 21st century. So how can we systematically apply the lessons of these types of training programs for narrowing the skills gap? The first important step will be to make the job requirement more transparent. Companies, apart from defining jobs by the traditional descriptions, also need to do it through a set of skill-based courses in which the job aspirant is able to demonstrate mastery. Job descriptions can have a playlist of courses that are necessary to prepare for the job. This way, students can figure out the education and skills required for a given job. Online courses have made the creation of a playlist easier than ever before. This approach is applicable even in the case of employed, experienced individuals who are looking to climb the hierarchy within their organization. Managers can collaborate with employees on learning plans customized according to each employee to close the latter's skills gaps, so that they can move on to the next level. More often than not, employees find that landing a new job in a given department requires specific skill sets, rather than a degree. Employers, by framing the job requirements as a playlist of courses, benefit through internal hiring, while the employees come to know exactly what is required to climb up to the next level. Online courses enable every job seeker and every employee to take personalized courses to further their career goals. This may also encourage employers to recruit and train workers with relatively less experience as the provision of relevant, personalized internal training has become that much easier now. To conclude, advances in online learning are turning out to be the best bet for matching emerging members of the workforce with companies that are struggling to fill jobs.