Mind the Gap: How the Skills Gap Is Affecting Employment and Education

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Manhattan Prep GRE Blog - Min the Gap: How the Skills Gap Is Affecting Employment and Education by Manhattan Prep

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If you’ve spent any time poring over job listings recently, you may have noticed a trend: despite the fact that there are a ton of openings, it can seem impossible to secure an interview or even a response from most companies. The jobs are there, but somehow you’re still looking for one—so what’s the missing link?

Businesses really are looking to hire new employees, but it’s been proving difficult to find people who have what it takes to do those increasingly high-skill jobs. Employees can’t keep up with the skills they’re expected to possess, which are always changing, and in turn, companies have to halt growth while they search for potential hires who they feel can get the job done. This phenomenon is referred to as a “skills gap,” and it’s been widening for years alongside the advance of technology and its ties to the ever-evolving workforce.

This past July boasted the most job openings ever recorded in a month in the U.S. since the year 2000; there were 5,788,000 openings and 5,084,000 people hired.

That seems like good news at face value, but it’s actually a result of the skills gap’s habit of ruining employment opportunities. Less people were hired because companies have been lengthening the hiring process rather than providing promising employees with the training they need to acquire new skills. Obviously, this hurts the economy, but it’s particularly frustrating for people who find that their breadth of knowledge is insufficient, forcing them to catch up or face a long job search.

The Skills Gap Misery Index uses data to tangibly measure the effect that the skills gap has on the U.S. workforce by proving the amount of “misery” it’s caused over the years with both employers and employees. The current SGMI is 138.2, which means that the gap is 38.2% wider than it was in 2001, when the data was first measured. Clearly, we’re pretty miserable at the moment. 😔

According to the Wall Street Journal, 73% of CEOs claim the skills gap is a “key concern” that undoubtedly affects the future growth of their business. The gap is especially prevalent in the tech world, where advances are constantly being made to render formerly-impressive skills obsolete, like a new iPhone after six months. Since the existing amount of digital data is doubling every two years, there’s been a huge increase in demand for skilled employees in fields like data science and analytics, which were once niche areas but are quickly becoming integral to all industries.

This bubble chart by UpScored shows the top 30 skill gaps in technical roles:

Manhattan Prep GRE Blog - Mind the Gap: How the Skills Gap Is Affecting Employment and Education by Manhattan Prep - Image 1 - Bubble Chart by Upscored

To help bridge the gap, companies like Microsoft have been investing in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education, confirming its crucial role in the development of the skills necessary to succeed in today’s workforce. Learning skills through higher education like the ones illustrated in the bubble chart can greatly increase your worth in the job market.

After all, employers are consistently looking for highly-educated employees. According to Fortune, there is a “vast pay gap between those with advanced degrees and those without, as well as [a] growing emphasis employers place on higher education for hiring and promotion.” Their study determining the best graduate degrees for jobs was based on a combination of outlook for job growth, median pay, and job satisfaction/stress. The result?

Graduate degrees in STEM fields dominated the rankings, with starting salaries ranging from $68k to $117k.

With 27% of employers now hiring employees with master’s degrees for positions that used to require only a 4-year degree, higher education has become increasingly important in the workforce. It’s not just mid-level positions that are at stake—46% of employers are looking to hire better educated candidates for entry-level jobs.

Manhattan Prep GRE Blog - Mind the Gap: How the Skills Gap Is Affecting Employment and Education by Manhattan Prep - Image 2 - Fast Company Graph Impact of Higher Ed on the Job

MBAs in High Demand

Investing in a master’s in a STEM field isn’t the only way to go when considering your future employment opportunities. There’s also the MBA, whose graduates earn an average of 75% more than non-MBAs—and that’s just in general. MBAs from the top schools can augment their earnings to 138% more than their pre-MBA salary levels. This is a process that plays out over the entirety of your career; 20 years after completing their program, MBA grads can expect to be around $2.57 million better off than non-MBAs in terms of salaries, bonuses, etc.

Beyond the financial gains, an MBA helps you develop business skills and connections that can make it easier to find an amazing job after graduation. According to this graduate of both Harvard and Stanford, a top MBA can provide you with “the habit of thinking strategically…the desire to think big, the ambition to do something that matters, and the self-confidence to launch yourself into achieving it,” as well as “deep friendships with so many bright, driven, ambitious people.” The possession of those skills and resources is invaluable in a job candidate—simply having that network of trusted b-school associates can open up job opportunities and collaborations that would never be possible otherwise, making you see your MBA’s return on investment for your whole career.

Yes, a master’s in something like Computer Science and an MBA from a great school are pretty big investments in and of themselves. But as employers continue to hold out for highly-skilled candidates, the skills gap will widen and employees will be expected to learn more than they already know.

Pursuing higher education is a way to secure your future in an uncertain workforce.

Hiring practices may be changing, but the value of a graduate degree has only been increasing. Choosing to go after a master’s degree or MBA definitely takes a lot of hard work and preparation. We know that you may not have time to attend an in-person class, might prefer learning in an interactive way, or maybe you work best in a 1-on-1 setting—that’s why we offer test prep options for all kinds of people looking to invest in their future. As the skills gap widens, we’re choosing to think big and plan ahead for the many students who will seek out higher education.

We hope to see you in class soon! 📝


Show the skills gap who’s boss by taking the first steps toward higher education. We offer:

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