After spending more than 30 years serving in the Department of Defense (DOD) and now supporting the DOD and other government agencies, I have seen widening disparities in the age, experience, and capability of a labor force that has training issues ahead. In addition, technology-related skills gaps have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Government agencies around the world must equip this workforce to adapt not just to new jobs but to entirely different fields.
In March 2022, Deloitte published a study that stated “Between the pandemic and new technologies, the labor force is experiencing massive disruption. Many workers are leaving their jobs to take better positions elsewhere.”
Governments worldwide are now trying to bring labor policies in line with this new economic reality. The goal is to future-proof the labor force by creating a workforce as dynamic as the economy it fuels. These policies seek to improve the efficiency of labor markets by making changes to education, skills training, credentialing, and employment frameworks.
Here are a few highlights of the some of the workforce challenges today:
- Skills mismatch: Changing technology has made some skills obsolete while creating unfilled demand for others. According to the World Economic Forum, the half-life of a job skill is about five years. In November 2021, the United States had 10.6 million job openings, an eye-popping 1.5 open jobs for every job seeker.
- Job turnover: In June 2022, the US Department of Labor reported 4.2 million workers quit or changed jobs—the highest number in history.
- Remote work: The ability to do a job remotely has radically altered where and how work is performed, creating competition for talent across geographies.
This disruption in labor markets preceded the pandemic, but the pandemic accelerated the turmoil. Although the pandemic triggered an initial surge in global unemployment, the overall unemployment rate has largely returned to normal.
In addition to the pandemic’s impact on the labor market, government agencies are now responding to a rapidly changing technological landscape; with automation, AI, and digital technologies disrupting workers and industries, there is a growing need for an adaptable, resilient workforce to enable the economy to quickly react to rapid shocks.
Trends in ActionMany jobs lost during the pandemic are not expected to come back. Researchers at the University of Chicago project that 32 to 42 percent of pandemic-induced layoffs are permanent. This means that despite a strong labor market, some workers need to train for new careers.
Government agencies are enacting policies that equip people to adapt to entirely different fields than those they were hired for. Six adaptive workforce shifts have been identified for governmental action: promoting alternative credentialing, embracing job-centric upskilling, creating online talent platforms to match businesses with job seekers, redefining employment for gig workers, supporting technological infrastructure, and adapting higher education standards to meet the changing demands of the labor market.
These workforce shifts require a new learning solution. DOD and other government agencies must provide programs that support their organizations’ missions while growing a multi-generational workforce. For this business sector, the most popular programs have been in information technology (IT) and business-related credentialing. Accelerated knowledge transfer using 3D or virtual training capabilities is also in demand to help deal with the workforce shifts.
At ProTrain, we realize that these shifts can be complicated. Learning is a commitment that we all make for a better future. Our government clients’ needs are paramount. We are committed to your success and ours, one learner at a time.
For more information, stop by the ProTrain table at ATD Government Workforce, September 8, in Washington, DC.