Making The ‘Skills Gap’ Work For YouPosted: 14th of July 2016 by Tom Clover
Work, much like business, is a matter of supply and demand. Just like a shop needs to stock items that people want to buy, so you might want to think about getting skills that employers want in order to give yourself the best chance of getting your career started. The alternative is to go along with the crowd and take a course or follow a path that is well-worn and possibly overcrowded before taking your chances to compete for a job that is already oversubscribed. Of course, within all of this is the need to find a career that you will want to do and a route that suits you. It may sound like a minefield of potential problems, but it needn’t be as tricky as it sounds, so long as you do a little bit of research.
The government and business have made much of the ‘skills gap’ over recent months – arguing that more people are needed to fill roles in areas such as engineering or other ‘STEM’ subjects (science, technology, engineering and maths), for example. There is an apparent lack of skilled people to do many jobs in these and other areas, which is bad news for business, but could be good news for you.
You can play this need to your advantage by becoming skilled in the areas where work is needed – and this can be done either on a vocational course or through a more academic route.
University may be an expensive option, and the idea of more study may not be for everyone, but there are certain degree subjects that have been shown to be more likely to lead to work in a related field. That said, just going to university and getting a degree will not make you more employable – you need to not only think about what you intend to do with your degree but also what sort of vacancies will be out there when you graduate.
Of course, it can be tricky to predict what the job market will be like in three or four years, but with the vocational route into work you are able to step right into a position and learn the skills needed to do a specific job right now. Coupling training with on-the-job experience can be the best way for some to learn, and with an apprenticeship, for example, you can get the skills you need, while earning a wage, and gaining a qualification to prove you know what you are doing. Another advantage is that employers will be paying for your training – which means that they have invested time and money into you – ideally in the hope of you being able to fit in and do a job for them when you qualify. For many apprentices, there is no need to go and look for work once you qualify, since you will already be situated with a business or company that will want to make good on their investment in you.
But how do you know what industries or employment opportunities are needing people, and which aren’t?
If you can, it is always worth getting some careers advice from an expert. Sadly, a lot of schools have cut back on careers advice over the years, but if you are fortunate enough to have access to some then make sure you use it. Another simple indicator is to look at the sort of jobs that are hiring where you live (or where you plan to move to). This will give you a snapshot of the job market as it stands – and while this may change as time goes on, it never hurts to get as much information as you can.
Just as some industries are suffering a skills shortage, so others are oversubscribed with people wanting to get in. These include, as ever, roles in the media which are highly competitive. That is not to say that you should shelve your dreams and get into engineering, but that you should be aware of what you are letting yourself in for, and understand that you may need to do more to stand out.
Finding a career that you want to do is important, since you will spend a lot of time each week there is no point in taking on something that you will hate and will just make you miserable. But this needs to be tempered with a dose of reality – which means knowing where the vacancies lie. However, in this, you really can turn the skills shortage to your advantage – don’t mind the gap, make use of it!
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