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Part of Western Governors University

January 22, 2019


Small businesses need qualified employees.

When we think about workforce shortages it is easy to focus on large corporations that have fewer employees, but what about small businesses? According to the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council, in 2016 companies with fewer than 20 workers made up 89.0 percent of the businesses in the country. With a strong backbone like that in the United States, how is the changing workforce affecting them?

Colleagues drinking coffee

According to a Wells Fargo and Gallup study, “Small business owners are clearly feeling positive about their current situation—with record-high ratings on cash flows and overall improvements in their financial situation driving their optimism. Yet the improved economy has its downsides, manifested by owners' concerns over being able to find, hire and retain qualified employees.”

There is a major concern about finding skilled workers. How do you make qualified employees who can hit the ground running? This is the pivotal moment where education comes in. With many employers, small businesses included, looking for skilled workers, we are seeing a major shift in education. Knowledge is important, but readily-available skills are quickly becoming just as important. 

However, there is more to it than that. In the Chronicle of Higher Education they explain that 60 percent of executives and hiring managers think most college graduates are prepared for entry-level positions, but “only a third of executives, and a quarter of hiring managers, believe graduates have the skills and knowledge to advance or be promoted.” It is not only preparing individuals for the workplace but preparing them with the skills needed to succeed once they are there.

Many universities are changing their education models based on this feedback. They strive to work collaboratively with businesses and move outside the silo that has become education. Within this changing workforce, the only way to move ahead is together.

WGU Nevada is recognized by many organizations including the National Council on Teacher Quality , Center of Excellence in Nursing Education, Microsoft IT Academy, and a winner of the CODiE  Award from The Software & Information Industry Association. What does this recognition mean? It means WGU Nevada, and its new model of education, is moving toward collaborative education that is only possible when you speak to the industries you create employees for. In the case of WGU Nevada, there are four schools: IT, Health & Nursing, Teaching, and Business. By working with each of those industries, the curriculum is tailored to fit the needs of the workplace, so employees are ready as soon as they graduate to not only gain employment, but to exceed once they have it.

The workforce is changing, shouldn’t education change to?

To read more from the Workforce Changes Blog Series, follow the link to read the first blog in the series, How Does Education Change to Fit the New Workforce? and the second blog, Competency-Based Education Finds its Heyday.

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