I’d like to write the second post on a topic that I have been thinking a lot about for the last year. It is a social problem I first came across when I was interviewing executives in Brazil and Colombia for a report I was working on at the time.
The problem is that many companies are having difficulty to find people with the critical skills they desire to grow their businesses. At the same time many educated young people around the globe are having trouble finding jobs. But who is to blame? Is this a problem as a recent WEF Annual Meetings session discussed of an unemployed or unemployable labor force? And how can we – as a new McKinsey report discusses – successfully design systems to move more people from education to employment?
Something tells me this gap presents a great opportunity for entrepreneurs. So I dug a little deeper. I surveyed 115 recent MBA and executive MBA graduates from more than 30 countries about the education-labor market mismatch and I discovered some interesting findings.
First of all it appears that much of the critical skill gaps employers are looking for are in the difficult to define area traditionally known as “soft skills” such as work ethic, entrepreneurial attitude, communication and team work. In fact more than 70 percent of the key skill gaps identified are in this area. While traditional “hard skills” most youth perceive as being needed such as foreign languages, computer programming and other hard technical skills may not be as needed.
Second when asked about what types of job finding and skill building services they would be willing to use and pay for I also found that there is a wide range of on-line internet based skill building services that might be offered to address this gap and make money doing so. Some ventures that already exists – like online formal education platforms – the likes of Couresera and Khan Academy have space to grow. As do industry specific and localized job databases and networking sites like LinkedIn and Monster. Also some less well established services such as virtual mentoring, networking and short-term soft skill training programs I believe could be established profitably.
There are already some businesses operating in this space trying to address just these gaps. I hope to profile some of them soon. In the meantime I’d love to hear your thoughts on the above.