Looking at Aptitudes Over Interests to Drive Career Pathways
Atlanta’s economy is growing rapidly. In 2018, employers created 58,400 new jobs, and the workforce increased by 2.8 percent. Demand for new employees also jumped, with more than half a million job openings in the metro area – nearly 10 percent more than 2017. But despite this tremendous opportunity, like other growing areas, the Atlanta region is competing for talent at home and abroad to ensure economic prosperity and competitiveness in the years ahead.
I have seen firsthand how critical it is to think more proactively about building our talent pipeline. A key tactic to closing metro Atlanta’s skills gap requires us to increase student interest in high-demand occupations and develop their technical skills through experiential learning opportunities.
The Metro Atlanta Chamber recently released a new Talent Pipeline Report that analyzes data from 21,000 students across 95 metro-area high schools to shed light on opportunities to help students maximize their career options based on their interests and aptitudes.
The data zeroed in on students with correlating interests and aptitudes for high-demand fields in the Atlanta region like information technology, healthcare, distribution and logistics, construction, and manufacturing. The study confirmed that the metro Atlanta region has an extraordinarily diverse and capable talent pool with a much larger-than-expected group of students demonstrating strong aptitudes for careers in these integral industries.
The challenge is helping students gain exposure to these opportunities and improving awareness of these jobs, which in turn can help increase the number of students who express interest in these fields.
Too often, students will overlook or disregard a certain career path because they don’t have much familiarity with the field or have preconceived notions about the work. This explains why we see few male students with interest in patient-focused healthcare when in reality, many males have a strong aptitude for jobs in this area.
If we let current areas of interest solely dictate which postsecondary education and career paths students choose, we will not fully realize our potential and will struggle to fill our talent needs.
Increasing interest and career awareness in areas of demand is critical to meeting our talent needs. We can’t fill all of our high-demand, high-quality jobs if we aren’t intentional about including all students, regardless of race or gender. To do so, we’re working to encourage greater collaboration between business and education through experiential learning programs in high-demand areas.
The Metro Atlanta Chamber used a career aptitude tool called YouScience helps engage students in a more thoughtful exploration of how their talents can add value to the modern workforce. The Metro Atlanta Chamber Talent Pipeline Report was an analysis of YouScience data.