To ease the labor shortage, emphasize training and education.

The labor shortage has emerged as a major drag on the recovery and a top concern of corporate CEOs and small business owners during “the Great Resignation.”

“When we come into contact with life-threatening events, we tend to reflect on death and consider whether we are happy with our lives or whether we would like to make changes to them,” said Anthony Klotz, a management professor at Texas A&M University who coined the phrase “Great Resignation.”

“The pandemic forced [people] to take stock of their lives and gave them the opportunity to reimagine it.”

Many others are still thinking about it, several surveys have shown. One, fielded by Morning Consult for Prudential in mid-September, found that 46% of full-time employed U.S. adults are either actively looking for or considering a new job search. The cultural shift, dubbed the “Great Resignation,” will likely have a lasting effect on the workplace, experts say.

An excellent piece published by The Hechinger Report finds that making that job-to-career change will require most workers to gain additional training and education.

For years, economists have been warning that more and more people hoping to switch careers would need to get additional education to go from one workplace to another — even in industries such as manufacturing that have not always previously required it. Now that prophecy is coming true, to the surprise of many of the record number of Americans quitting their jobs.

…The trend has been driven by rapid changes in the labor market and accelerated by the Covid-19 pandemic. And it’s among the reasons labor experts cite for the fact that there are 10.4 million open jobs at a time when 7.7 million Americans are unemployed.

In Maine, the state tried to understand the disconnect.

Maine has also done something few other states have — it asked its unemployed residents why they were having trouble getting jobs. The top reason, according to a survey of more than 2,600 jobless people by the Maine Department of Labor: They didn’t have the skills required by employers who are hiring.

We’ll pause here to reflect on the skills gap in Washington, which is explored well in the 2017 report Pathways to Great Jobs in Washington, and developed in a series of subsequent reports on the importance of post-secondary credentials, most recently Path to 70% Credential Attainment: Recovery and Reimagining. The focus of. the research is preparing students of today for the abundant career opportunities in Washington, most of which will require that post-secondary credential. 

Now, apply that same logic to adults seeking new career opportunities.

The Hechinger Report writes,

Workers over age 45 in particular — who make up 40 percent of the long-term unemployed — are much more likely to land new jobs if they get additional education than if they don’t, in which case they stay unemployed for much longer, according to research funded by McKinsey & Company, Microsoft and others; it found that three-quarters of hiring managers said they’re more likely to hire over-45s with relevant training or educational credentials than with only work experience.

Obtaining the credential is a challenge for those already working long hours and who often have additional family responsibilities.

Nearly half of American adults consider themselves underemployed and underpaid or not fulfilling their potential, according to a survey by the educational technology company Jenzabar. More than one in three want new careers.

But Americans are also frustrated with the training and education that’s available to them to get new work. Eighty percent think traditional colleges and universities are too expensive for this purpose, the Jenzabar survey found.

All varieties of postsecondary providers together offer a confusing array of nearly a million kinds of credentials, according to the nonprofit organization Credential Engine. And the government provides little help for people trying to find their way; the United States spends less on coordinated workforce development, measured as a proportion of its gross domestic product, than any industrialized country but Mexico.

We encourage you to read the whole piece. As with other issues – remote work, for example – the pandemic has given top-spin to pre-Covid economic challenges. Perhaps it will similarly accelerate work on solutions.