Job-Driven Training Initiatives Close Skill Gap

Julie Shenkman
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Federal officials are taking a new approach to getting job seekers into work: using job-driven training initiatives to equip them with the skills they need to thrive in the workplace. These training initiatives are designed to improve skills and match job seekers with suitable employers in the hope that this connection will lead to long-term employment.

Vice President Joe Biden has recently released a report titled, "Ready to Work: Job-Driven Training and American Opportunity." This report is a comprehensive review of federal training initiatives, which draws on the experiences of job seekers and businesses to identify the challenges that they face and suggests strategies to address the current issues.

According to Biden's report, many employers complain that they cannot find enough workers with the skills they need to grow their businesses. The skills that are required in today's job market are often different from the skills that were in demand a couple of decades ago, and they vary from industry to industry. In addition to industry-specific skills, such as the ability to use a particular computer program or programming language, employers are also looking for transferable skills, such as teamwork and communication. In particular, employers say that they want to see technology graduates who have better problem-solving and critical thinking skills.

Biden's report explains that education and training initiatives need to be based on data about the types of skills that employers are currently looking for. U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez wrote in a recent blog post that job-driven training initiatives need to provide job seekers with "the skills, credentials and certifications that businesses are looking for right now."

In an attempt to address the current skills gap, President Obama recently signed into law an act designed to improve opportunities for job seekers and ease the pressure on businesses struggling to find the skilled workers they need. The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act aims to use federal resources as efficiently as possible to deliver training initiatives that really help job seekers to move into successful and sustainable careers.

The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act will change the way that roughly 2,000 job centers in the United States deliver services to employers and job seekers. The aim is to strengthen connections between businesses, job seekers, community colleges, labor unions and nonprofit organizations, helping these various groups to work together to deliver better job-driven training initiatives and create a stronger labor pool of skilled workers.

The recent Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act was supported by both Democrats and Republicans when it passed through Congress. Politicians, business leaders and job seekers all hope that this act will help to deliver better job-driven training initiatives to help out-of-work Americans get back on the career ladder.


Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles at



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