The Link Between Unemployment Rates and the Lack of Qualified Professionals in America

With the 2012 presidential election only two weeks away, we are hearing a lot about unemployment rates and how they have not dropped enough since Obama took office in 2008. And while the current economic crisis is in large part to blame, there is a larger problem at hand: many Americans simply are not well enough educated to perform the jobs that are in demand, nor do they have the skill set necessary to perform even some of the less mentally strenuous jobs on the market.

I've had the opportunity to chat with numerous fellow entrepreneurs and job creators and besides access to capital (which of course is always an issue), the second most talked about challenge in growing a company is finding candidates with the right experience. At a non-partisan jobs council meeting with the White House last week here in Miami, that was a consistent message.

In a recent Manpower Group report, 49 percent of employers are reporting a hard time filling their available jobs.

And it's not just the private sector, as the numbers are even more startling when looking at the armed forces:

The Defense Department found that 75 percent of Americans age 17 to 24 are not qualified to serve in the armed forces. In fact, 30 percent of the high school graduates who take the Armed Forces Qualification Test, a test of basic reading and math skills, fail it.

Without providing youth the necessary skills and education, whether those are basic or advanced, there is no way that America's economy, and consequently the global economy, will be given the support and strength needed to be pulled out of this daunting recession. And it is merely not enough to rely on one man's capacity to create jobs for an entire nation; the nation itself must take responsibility to rise to the standards of success.

Individuals must apply themselves and acclimate to the needs of the job market. The Associated Press reported that those who've lost their jobs during the recession are finding that they no longer qualify for jobs in their old fields because employers are demanding more skills for each new hire. These facts cannot be ignored.

So, the question becomes how do we educate the masses and prepare them for an innovative, evolving job market? The obvious answer is to educate them and to provide them the essential training to succeed. But with education costs rising 8 percent annually, how can one, particularly one who is not employed or underemployed, afford these high costs? It is no easy task.

Thanks to the web, there are many free or affordable resources available that can provide the skill development and education necessary in the new economy. Numerous universities nationwide, such as MIT's Open Courseware and Stanford Online, along with amazing platforms like edX initiative and Coursera, which offer classes from a number of top schools, provide a variety of accessible courses designed to keep candidates informed and up to speed on the ever-evolving job market.

So, while education is primarily the responsibility of the individual, employers must also be willing to invest in the continued education of staff. As a growing startup, it can be tough when making hiring decisions. But, at GradSave, we are committed to hiring for disposition and commitment, and we can then make the investment in our team (and this leads to more employee loyalty!).

There is no doubt that unless employers and job seekers work together to further education and advancement in the work place, America's job market will continue to suffer.