What Is the Skills-First Economy & Why Does It Matter?
A skills-first approach places more value on what a person can do than where or when they learned how to do it.
Hang on to your talent...if you can.
America’s labor shortage shows no sign of slowing down. Data published by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows a record-high number of job openings—nearly twice as many as before the COVID-19 pandemic began. Many point fingers at the Great Resignation, which continues worldwide despite alarming inflation rates. Employees continue to walk away from careers that no longer suit their lifestyles, financial needs, or priorities.
With these factors in mind, employers are taking a fresh approach to supporting their teams.
Enter the skills-first economy.
The skills-first economy explained
The skills-first economy is a rapidly evolving approach to professional development that’s on track to permanently change the way companies recruit, hire, and promote employees.
Savvy employers realize that placing an increasing amount of attention on talent’s individual skills pays off, especially if those skills align with major technological developments.
This means that the days of ranking interviewees and employees according to time spent studying, higher education degrees, and past work experience may be numbered.
How will the skills-first economy impact working mechanical engineers?
The concept of skill-building learning solutions isn’t exactly new to engineering. There’s a reason that continuing education is mandatory for mechanical engineers. Technology, skills, and concepts in the engineering community advance at a breakneck pace, and it’s not unheard of for the design software that mechanical engineering students learn in college to become obsolete before they even graduate.
With a looming need for 50% of employees to upskill by 2025, it’s fortunate that engineers tend to have an innate desire to learn. Now more than ever, mechanical engineers at all stages of their careers stand to gain by emphasizing skill-based learning. Unfortunately, time and cost place significant barriers between working engineers and the continued education they seek.
Without employer support, working engineers face a challenge accessing the ongoing training they so desperately need and want.
Why does skills-based learning matter for engineering employers?
Although it may require a shift in longstanding practices, there are many good reasons for employers to embrace the shift to skills-based learning.
- It’s a wise investment for mechanical engineering employers. Despite the nation’s significant decrease in available workers, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects an increase of 140,000 engineering jobs between 2016 and 2026. To fill vacancies, engineering employers must adapt to the skill-based economy and create environments where internal growth isn’t just possible—it’s encouraged!
- Promote growth from within. Current engineering employees are one of your greatest sources of untapped potential. Employees that don’t feel as if their skills are adequately applied at work are ten times more likely to search for a new job—but those same employees could just as easily use their unacknowledged skills to innovate, create, and improve operations within your organization.
- They simply need the opportunity to do so. Too often, these engineers end up “stuck in the middle.” They’re overqualified for their current position but lack the time and money to gain the adjacent skills required to pursue a promotion. Employers shouldn’t rule out promising engineers who strive for a lateral, upward, or unconventional job change. Aim to foster internal career transitions instead by investing in skill-specific learning solutions.
- Employee retention increases with Learning & Development investment. In 2019, LinkedIn revealed that 94% of employees are willing to stay in a position longer when their employer is willing to invest in their education. One-fourth of employees are willing to walk away from a job where there are few opportunities to learn and grow professionally.
Building the skills engineering employees need most
A constantly evolving digital landscape means that traditionally-educated mid-career and late-career engineers may never have received formal training on several rapidly evolving mechanical engineering technologies.
With hundreds of relevant courses to choose from, ASME’s accredited, skill-based learning solutions support the success of your employees and your business.
For a limited time, get 25% off our on demand courses when you buy for a group of 5 or more. Use code 5FOR25 at checkout to train on:
Our skill-based learning solutions are available in a variety of convenient formats with flexible accessibility and schedules. Every course is continuously reviewed and optimized to ensure the content is current and leaves learners confident in applying their new skills to real-world applications.
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