What are the essential job skills of today and how prepared is Idaho’s current workforce to tackle the skill requirements of future work?
An increased emphasis on making sure employees have the skills they need today is shifting the conversation toward identifying the most relevant skills necessary for the jobs of tomorrow.
This analysis draws on information from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Information Network (O*NET) database, a useful tool in identifying work competencies in the labor market. O*NET uses surveys of employees and occupational experts to determine the important characteristics and requirements of more than 900 occupations. Its content model identifies, among other things, the different mix of knowledge, skills and abilities required by each occupation as a standardized, measurable set of variables. This article focuses on just the skill requirements.
What are the essential job skills required in the marketplace?
Skills are broadly defined as strategies and procedures for acquiring and working with the knowledge that comes with experience and practice (Tippins & Hilton, 2010). The O*NET skills taxonomy identifies 35 skills considered necessary for a wide range of jobs and tasks. These skills are divided into basic and cross-functional skills. Basic skills describe the capacities an individual has that assist in the learning process and acquisition of knowledge. Skills such as reading comprehension, writing, active learning and critical thinking are included in this grouping. Cross-functional skills refer to competencies such as social skills, complex problem solving, technical skills, systems skills and resource management skills.
Employers are increasingly concerned about their ability to find workers with the skills they need to keep their companies successful. They call it a skills gap, and much of the attention has been on middle skills – those that require more than a high school diploma but less than a four-year college degree. Typically that means one or two years of training or study beyond high school – associate degrees, certificates or even apprenticeships – and usually some on-the-job training.
Based on data from the U.S. Department of Labor’s O*NET database of occupations and education, experience and training requirements, about 53 percent of the jobs in the Idaho economy are considered low skilled – those needing no more than a high school diploma. Twenty-six percent fall into the middle-skills category while 22 percent are considered high skilled.
The 2013 Post Falls Reverse Job Fair was attended by 218 students.
Hundreds of high school seniors received a real-world introduction to employment and job search techniques in Post Falls this spring.
At Post Falls High School, students prepare for the Chamber of Commerce’s annual Reverse Job Fair throughout the school year – researching careers and colleges, job shadowing and creating portfolios filled with work-related documents, explains Post Falls High School English teacher Jennifer Maddy. The students also engage in practice interviews and create tri-fold posters in final preparation for the fair.
“It blows me away every year,” said interviewer and judge, David Risdon, CEO of Century Publishing in Post Falls. Risdon – involved with the fair since its inception in 2007 – says he is impressed by each student’s potential and likes seeing how well the students prepare for the fair. “The kids have dreams and are ready to go after them,” he said.
Are you having trouble getting a job interview? Have you sent out lots of resumes without getting a nibble? Alison Green, who writes the Ask a Manager blog, lists four reasons why you might not be getting the attention of potential employers, including having a boring cover letter. You can read her full article here.