How online education could narrow the global skills gap

Anant Agarwal, CEO of edX

Business leaders and educators are turning to new technologies to fill jobs and train workers.

This post original ran in Fortune on July 20, 2015.

It has been widely reported that U.S. employers have a hard time finding skilled talent to fill critical jobs. Rapid developments in digital technology, as well as innovations in science and engineering, have created a gap between need and availability of the skills required across these industries.

Though not limited to any specific age group, the issue particularly affects millennials, who collectively hold more college degrees than any previous generation. According to the White House Council of Economic Advisors’ October 2014 report, 47% of young adults between the ages of 25 and 34 had received some form of post-secondary degree (associates, bachelor’s, or graduate). However, a recent global survey from Deloitte found that the overwhelming majority of respondents felt it was on-the-job skills—not what they had learned in college — that got them through their daily workload. The study concluded that there was a significant gap between the skills desired by workplaces and what those polled had actually possessed by graduation.