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The myth of the skills gap

July 17, 2012

Today’s article is a bit of a departure from the normal focus of this blog, as it is not a topic that is limited to only academia, but one that reflects a broader problem with employment in the US in general.  However, I feel it’s deeply connected to the sorts of issues I complain about on this blog, so I think it’s worth sharing.

We often hear complaints about the “skills gap” – this notion that we need more STEM majors in colleges, because all of these companies are constantly complaining that they cannot find qualified applicants for their positions.  This feels like a disconnect with reality to those of us who have been in academia for a while, and seen just how difficult it is to even be considered for many industry positions, even with an advanced degree like a PhD.  So where is this breakdown happening?  I’ve posted many articles on this blog decrying the lack of job opportunities for science majors, yet at the same time we have all of these companies complaining that there are not enough STEM majors out there to fill their open positions.  What gives?

In today’s article, Peter Cappelli argues that the blame for this discrepancy lies squarely on the shoulders of the employers, who are building more and more unrealistic expectations for employees, and suffering because of it.  It is a very interesting read, which I think will hit very close to home for the science-y types who tend to read this blog.

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