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44 SMT Magazine • August 2017 will need to be filled, with 2 million (60%) of those jobs going unfilled directly due to the skills gap. With industry executives around the globe identifying talent-driven innovation as the number one factor in establishing compet- itive advantage, it is very easy to draw a direct negative correlation from skills gap to growth and profitability. Deloitte reported that 82% of executives responding indicate they believe the skills gap will impact their ability to meet cus- tomer demand, and 78% believe it will impact their ability to implement new technologies and increase productivity. In addition, executives indicate the skills gap also impacts the ability to provide effective customer service (69%), the ability to innovate and develop new products (62%), and the abil- ity to expand internationally (48%). The so- bering takeaway from the data is that the skills gap is real—and so are the consequences. An overwhelming number of American executives (92%) believe that American workers aren't as skilled as they need to be, and American work- ers agree, with 1 in 5 saying their professional skills are not up to date. What does this mean in bottom-line dollars? Almost $1 million in lost business for most companies. This is a wake-up call for the industry. College is a path, not a right! A changing society is as much to blame as anyone for the lack of bench strength in our U.S. manufacturing companies. Ask any young person and they will probably tell you that col- lege is not a privilege, it is a right! (If you re- ally want to blow your mind, ask them who they think should pay for it.) Not to paint all young people with an overly broad brush as there are plenty of hard work- ing kids with their heads on straight, but compared to past generations, they are a bit of an entitled bunch. Remem- ber the aforementioned hard work, dues paying and under- standing that you must earn what you want? Not so much with today's youth. Right out of college they expect a cushy desk job, with an office and a high-paying salary because they "paid their dues" simply by just going to college. I don't blame the kids; first, I blame the educational sys- tem that teaches them from a very early age that college is the only choice, and that they are entitled to it. Remember when college was just one of three potential paths that high school graduates could pursue? The other choices were the trades or to enter the general workforce, both providing just as many opportunities, if not more, then the college path. THE EMS SKILLS GAP EPIDEMIC

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