The skills gap dominates this week's round-up of stories from the world of work. We look at how it affects the bottom line and some of the ways businesses and governments can tackle it.

#1. Amazon Flex drivers use bots to beat the system


It’s guaranteed that for any system that can be created, someone will figure out how to cheat it. An example of that comes from the US, where Amazon Flex drivers use an app to accept package delivery shifts. Such is the race to be first to grab available shifts, some unscrupulous drivers are using bots to automatically refresh the app and accept shifts before others get a chance. This is against Amazon’s rules but it’s a difficult thing to stop. The gig economy is booming, but the risk for Amazon is that rule-following drivers will lose faith in the system and seek work elsewhere in the gig economy.


💡 Countries and governments are not the only ones trying to keep up with the gig economy. Companies are also having to outsmart the smart.


Photo by Christian Wiediger on Unsplash

#2. The mounting cost of the skills gap


The skills gap is going to be an increasing threat to companies’ bottom line over the next decade, according to new research. A study of American firms finds that it is getting harder to find candidates with the right skills, which is driving up recruitment costs. IT and technical skills are a problem but there is also a lack of soft skills, such as work ethic, which 42% of businesses say candidates lack, communication (49%) and teamwork (43%). The money companies are spending searching for scarce skills would be better invested in training and developing those skills, in both current employees and young people.


💡 Instead of wishing for talent that isn’t there today, it is time we invest in candidates to acquire the right skills companies need!


#3. Tackling the skills gap with apprenticeships


Companies are becoming more aware that they must invest in getting the talent they need. Businesses from Ford and Toyota, to Microsoft and Sony, and Visa and Walmart, have begun exploring apprenticeship programmes for technology careers. They are looking to previously ignored segments of the workforce – those without technology experience or a higher-education degree and offering apprenticeships. Apprenticeships are a positive way to address the severe skill shortage in this fast-growing economic sector.


💡 Apprenticeships are a win-win! They help employers bridge the skills gap & offer employees high-paying jobs without racking up student loans.


Photo by Evangeline Shaw on Unsplash

#4. Governments and businesses partner on training


From Spain comes a good example of how to invest in skills. The State Public Employment Service and the State Foundation for Training in Employment got together in late 2019 to sign agreements with a range of companies, including Amazon, Google, and IBM. The companies agreed to make available a range of training resources, in subjects such as cybersecurity, the internet of things and cloud computing. The training will be freely available online to workers, freelancers, the unemployed and SMEs.


💡 Skilled labor is high in demand and short in supply. To resolve the skills gap, governments and companies will have to work together. And Spain is a good example how!


Photo by Mitchell Luo on Unsplash

#5. EU reveals detail on the changing nature of work


Part of the reason for the skills gap is the changing nature of work. A new EU study provides more detail on just how work is changing. Among the conclusions: first, high-wage jobs are becoming concentrated in big cities, particularly around capitals, while peripheral regions are left with low-wage jobs. Second, emerging job opportunities typically require digital skills and soft skills. And third, freelance work from digital platforms – the gig economy – remains small in the EU, but significant. Around 11% of the working-age population have provided services through online platforms at least once, which is an increase from 9.5% in 2017. Their average age is just under 34 and 60% of those who say the gig economy is their main job have at least tertiary education.


💡 The world of work is changing. But in order to maximise the opportunities the future will bring, we need to address the challenges now. We need a new social contract!


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