Edward E. Gordon
  1. President, Imperial Consulting Corporation; Chicago, IL, USA

Correspondence Address:
Edward E. Gordon
President, Imperial Consulting Corporation; Chicago, IL, USA


Copyright: © 2013 Gordon EE This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

How to cite this article: Gordon EE. The Crisis in the lack of skilled workers worldwide: Its meaning for healthcare worldwide. Surg Neurol Int 10-Oct-2013;4:138

How to cite this URL: Gordon EE. The Crisis in the lack of skilled workers worldwide: Its meaning for healthcare worldwide. Surg Neurol Int 10-Oct-2013;4:138. Available from:

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Keywords: Future Jobs, Retains, Jobs and Education, World Shortage of Skilled Workers, Shortage of Workers


I have asked Ed Gordon who is an expert on the Workforce Issues worldwide to comment on his new book on this subject. The mismatch between the shortage of skilled workers and the demand for skilled workers worldwide will shape the development of countries across the globe. The basic reason is that the educational systems have failed to turn out educated young people who can read, write, communicate, and hold skilled positions and to produce students who can think independently.

James I Ausman


Future Jobs: Solving the Employment and Skills Crisis by Edward E. Gordon (Praeger, August 2013) focuses on the mismatch between the skills required in 21st-century workplaces and the current talent pool. The United States and the world are locked into a structural labor-market race between advanced technology on one side and demographics and education on the other.

Today's and tomorrow's jobs require advanced technical skill levels. Workplaces may need fewer people, but they must be better educated and able to work with advanced computer systems. This has become the new normal for employment whether it is in an office, production facility, hospital, law firm, or service business.

The demand for talent and the supply of workers with the desired skills are out of balance all over the world. The populations of Japan, South Korea, and many European nations are in decline. India and China are moving into more sophisticated high-tech manufacturing or IT services. They both are now encountering severe shortages of engineers, scientists, and technicians with the requisite educational preparation due to their deficient public-education systems and the inadequate standards of institutions of higher learning.

In the United States, a significant generational transition is underway. The massive population bulge of baby-boomers have begun to retire and will largely exit the workforce by 2030. The National Bureau of Economic Research warns that the technical preparation of this generation was superior to that of the generations that follow.

In 2013 over 90 million Americans of working age were not part of the U.S. labor market. The number of people looking for work (labor participation rate) was near the historic low of 63.3%; while the average duration of unemployment remained near historic highs. Yet over 6 million jobs were vacant across the United States, and surveys of employers consistently reported difficulty recruiting engineers, high-skilled technical positions, healthcare professionals, and management staff in biomedical and life sciences as well as sales representatives, accounting, and finance staff. Most of these vacant jobs are in in science, technology, engineering, and math-related (STEM) occupations.

The outlook for the future is equally problematic. In comparison to many other developed nations, the United States has high numbers of high school dropouts, mediocre international test-score results, and poor completion rates for postsecondary programs. While the U.S. Department of Commerce estimates that by 2020, STEM occupations will grow by 17% compared with 9.8% for other occupations, the American education system is failing to provide adequate numbers of students with the science, math, and critical thinking abilities needed for STEM employment. Furthermore, American business investment in training has been lagging, even as advanced technologies are transforming the skills required in the workplace.

[In his book Gordon writes about the Education systems in the USA and elsewhere and states,

“The economic advantages gained from U.S. educational exceptionalism in the 20th century have disappeared. Too many younger workers lack both the general education and career skills, let alone a strong work ethic to sustain a middle class standard of living…The US needs workers, who can think critically and possess intellectual curiosity…The jobs and skills mismatch is not simply escalating in the United States but also across the globe as well…Six out of every ten applicants for basic tech jobs do not qualify because they lack a basic liberal arts education in reading, writing, math, and science…For the remainder of this decade, business competition for this scarce talent will be unprecedented…only ten percent of Chinese engineering graduates meet the global professional standards of major American and European firms…[In India] talent growth is constricted because academic quality is so poor in many of India's higher educational institutions…[In India] 75% of the technical graduates and 85% of the general college education graduates were considered unemployable…Although the United States invests more in its schools than any other nation, the results of its general education system largely range from mediocre to downright dismal…the percentage of Americans who are well educated is below average compared to other rich nations…Only 7% of US students scored at the advanced level in math, in contrast to 48% of eighth graders in Singapore and 47% of South Koreans, the two best performing nations…In reading and math the number of low achieving American children exceeds the total combined number of similar students in Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Turkey and Japan…[In the USA] one million students drop out of school every year… Editor]

Future Jobs: Solving the Employment and Skills Crisis focuses on local and regional cross-sector partnerships for finding solutions to the jobs and skills disconnect. The author has coined the term Regional Talent Innovation Networks (RETAINs) for these public–private partnership hubs. They act as intermediaries rebuilding the pipeline that connects people to the job market. RETAINs are reinventing a 21st-century education-to-employment system thereby finding solutions to the job-skills disconnect. They have many names – High School Inc. in Santa Ana, California, the Vermilion Advantage in Danville, Illinois, the Community Education Coalition in Columbus, Indiana, the New North in northeastern Wisconsin, New Century Careers in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania – and more than 1000 other nonprofit RETAINs across the United States and nations throughout the world. They are providing the visionary leadership to help coordinate regional civic action behind a strategy for talent growth that jointly benefits individuals, businesses, and U.S. competitive economic advantage today and into the future.

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