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September 9, 2016

Awareness, transparency keys to future job market success

MAC's policy team and partner Accenture this week sat down with the Atlanta Business Chronicle's Dave Williams to discuss a new report assessing Georgia's job market.  Data, interviews and research collected over an eight-month period indicates skills gaps in two areas: talent and core competencies.  In other words,  there is a misalignment between employer demand and jobseeker qualifications both in terms of degree credentials and "soft" skills. The report also highlights solutions that will go a long way toward aligning business, education and jobseeker goals. Aggressive promotion of career opportunities and transparency in job postings top the list.

“Everyone’s been talking about the jobs gap for a decade,” said Nathan Boaz, senior managing director of HR talent strategy for Accenture. “[But] no one I know of has really gotten it down to this level of granularity.”

“The top challenge facing business is finding skilled talent,” he said. “Now, we have the data to make sure we know the dynamic between the jobs available and the skills and talent people have.”  - Marshall Guest, MAC's VP of Business Climate

“We need more clarity in these job postings,” said Amy Lancaster, the chamber’s director of workforce development.

Amy further elaborates on this point saying that employer job postings need to better define core skill needs and competencies. For example, employers may list "bachelor's degree required", indicating they are look for an individual with a certain set of core competencies.  When in fact actually listing those required skills, such as sales, accounting, or IT, would yield better qualified candidates applying for those jobs while also signaling to student and jobseekers which critical skills are needed to start off or advance their careers.  The same would be true with "soft" skills or basic professional skills.  Better defining "communications skills" as public speaking or writing skills would assist employers, educators and jobseekers moving forward.

“Georgia has long been a recognized leader in workforce readiness, and it is our intention to remain ahead of the curve,” said Jenner Wood, the chamber’s chairman and executive vice president of SunTrust Banks Inc. “This data will help us as a community of businesses, educators, policy makers and families to exact the process of pairing our quality workforce with the jobs of the future.”

Williams' article points out that "the state has been moving in that direction since 2013 with Gov. Nathan Deal’s High Demand Career Initiative, which steers HOPE grants toward technical college students enrolled in courses leading to jobs in high-demand fields."

“[Post-secondary education] is one of the biggest investments people make,” Boaz said. “A lot of good will come from knowing where there are decent jobs.”

“We don’t want to put people in a box. We want them to have all the insight and data at their fingertips,” he said. “I call it informed choice. ... We’re really trying to improve Georgia’s economy one job seeker at a time.”

To see the full report, visit www.yourtalentyourfuture.org

And Dave Williams' article can be found here.

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