Report | December 30, 2016

Shrinking State Skills Gaps

Many states across America cannot find qualified workers. Here are three education strategies that can help.

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Despite recent economic growth, many states are facing a looming workforce problem: American employers across various industries are hard-pressed to find individuals who have the knowledge and skills necessary for today’s jobs, which increasingly require education beyond high school.

By 2020, 65 percent of jobs in America will require postsecondary education—which only 60 percent of Americans currently have. That leaves a gap of 5 million jobs. Career and Technical Education (CTE) can help bridge that gap. Superseding traditional vocational schools in popularity, CTE prepares high school students of all backgrounds for college and the workforce.

By 2020, 5 million jobs in the U.S. will go unfilled because workers lack the necessary postsecondary education.

However, the solution starts even earlier than high school. Business leaders increasingly report a lack of deeper learning or “executive functioning” skills among applicants—such as communication, collaboration, and critical thinking—that are required for virtually any occupation. These deeper learning skills are typically taught in preschool.

This report series details the skills gap problem facing different states, and outlines a plan for addressing those shortages.

Each report discusses state-specific solutions that are proven to improve students’ success in school and workforce preparation, including:

  1. Improved access to high-quality early education
  2. More rigorous academic standards in schools
  3. Increased career-relevant training in high school (CTE)