In January, Mission: Graduate convened local employers and representatives from higher education to share the initial findings from the 2018 Bridging the Talent Gap survey.
The survey was conducted in late 2018 and is intended to inform the community about hiring challenges and skill gaps in our central New Mexico region.
Bridgett Strickler and Dr. Dan Ash of Bridging the Talent Gap delivered the results to a group of about 100 employers who filled out the survey. In total, 126 employers, and 313 employees completed the survey.
Participants were very engaged by the conversation,” says Jessica Nojek, Mission: Graduate Executive Director. “Hearing the employer voice is important in understanding how we can better serve young people and adults in setting them up for success and economic mobility.”
While many employers provide professional development benefits, the employee survey showed that staff members aren’t always aware of these benefits. Contributing to that lack of knowledge are the barriers that many employees face in attaining more education or credentials, including a lack of financial resources, the need for more time, and family responsibilities.
Dr. Ash suggested that partnering with educational institutions is the most scalable and affordable way to make progress. Currently, only 10 percent of employers partner with local post-high school institutions, but 85 percent are either definitely or possibly considering partnering. Graduate! ABQ, a service that helps adults take the necessary steps to go back to school is also an option.
The survey showed that across all skill types, employers believe that employees with either a two- or four-year degree possess more of the skills needed to do the job in their organization. Results also demonstrated that the profile of future education needs for our region is changing.
Further analysis of the survey will continue and will be used to determine next steps on how to utilize the data to best serve our community needs.
Participants discussed ways to help more employees take advantage of educational opportunities through their employer or at higher educational institutions. High on the list is increasing awareness of opportunities to employees and creating a culture in which employers can offer more support to employees working on credentials. Those supports range from allowing flexible work schedules to accommodate classes to publicly recognizing employees who have graduated or achieved significant educational milestones.
Discussions also confirmed the importance of educators engaging with employers to ensure that students graduate with the knowledge, skills, and attitudes needed for success.
The team will review discussion items at the Bridging the Talent Gap Follow-Up meeting scheduled for Feb. 13 from 8-9:30 at the United Way of Central New Mexico offices at 2340 Alamo. This discussion will also continue at the next Employment Network meeting scheduled for Friday, Feb. 1 from 8-9:30 a.m. at the CNM Workforce Training Center.