The skills-gap issue is growing more critical in the U.S., especially within those industries that are supported by professional associations. Continuing education is needed to address the crisis, but while most associations do provide education, a number of third-party suppliers have entered the marketplace as well.
According to the 2015 Membership Marketing Benchmark report, continuing education is the #2 reason why members join an education. But if continuing education is readily available elsewhere, why should members continue to join associations?
The answer relates to the value delivered through and association.edu approach. By providing competency-based learning and delivering this through an association.edu model, associations can address the skills-gap, while:
- Supplying a skilled workforce to industry
- Attracting new members to the association, while giving the labor force new career opportunities
- Increasing their overall relevancy
How bad is the skills-gap problem? Here are some statistics:
According to a 2013 Talent Shortage Survey conducted by ManpowerGroup,
- 39% of U.S. employers were having a difficult time filling jobs, and the survey ranked “Skilled Trade worker” as the toughest job to fill.
According to the 2014 Accenture Manufacturing Skills and Training study,
- 50% of manufacturers were planning to increase their staff by at least 5%.
- 75% of those hiring manufacturers were having moderate to severe staff shortages in skilled workers.
- Of those job openings, 80% are classified as highly skilled, 20% semi-skilled. There is no need for unskilled labor.
Colleges and universities have been unable to remedy the growing concern. According to a2014 Gallup survey, only 11% of business leaders believe that college graduates have the necessary skills and competencies to succeed in the workplace.
Associations are best equipped to address the skills-gap problem, but they need to stop delivering courses and start delivering competencies.
According to the 2015 Membership Marketing Benchmark report, the number one reason members join an association is for networking. In this model, learners needing a skill or competency are connected with those members who already have that competency. These “mentors” can opt in to provide feedback and advice to these learners. Here, Billy is connected with an association member Don White, who happens to work at GM. The learning provides an added opportunity for Billy to build a network to increase his odds of getting an interview and hopefully earning a position.
Using his micro-credentialing and social connections, Billy was hired on at GM as a welder. But now, he wants to pursue a promotion to foreman. Within this model, Billy can modify his learning profile to target that new role.
The model instantly maps his competencies with the new competencies required and creates a new learning journey. In addition, the social learning network adapts to connect Billy with others who can help him develop and grow.
For the industry, job competencies mean a more adaptive learning environment. When a new welding technique is introduced, the LMS can easily track the content related to those competencies. When the education specialist updates the assessment and activity resources, the learning journey is updated. All new learners have education that tracks back to what industry needs. To keep a micro-credential updated, members who completed that role can complete refresher training that only addresses the differences, since they earned that competency. Now, industry has a more reliable resource for their training and a network of potential job candidates.
Finally, the association.edu model establishes a closer connection with industry, to mitigate risks from third-party education providers. This model also creates a value-add to attract new members, drives renewals, up sells related educational products, and solidify the association’s relevance in a continually changing world. For associations, we think this is the #futureoflearning.
Digitec Interactive is a creative, customer-driven developer of learning platforms for the associations market. The company’s new learning management system (LMS), Knowledge Direct 7 (KD7), combines advanced technology with user-friendliness, helping associations to develop rich, customized and social learning experiences that are accessible to anybody, anywhere.
Jack McGrath is President of Digitec Interactive. As an instructional designer, producer and multimedia developer, Jack has managed eLearning titles for organizations including The Walt Disney Company, Cisco Systems, VMWare, Symantec Corporation, Yum! Brands, VERITAS Software, Chase Manhattan, and Hard Rock Café, among others. He is currently designing eLearning programs that use simulations, multi-player components, and games-based learning techniques to better engage the “games-based” generation. Jack is a recipient of the Brandon Hall Excellence in eLearning award. He also is a part-time professor teaching Humanities online, and he loves writing plays.