Did you catch Elon Musk's recent tweet, soliciting 10,000 workers for Tesla's new Gigafactory in Del Valle, Texas — no college degree necessary?
In Musk's new home city of Austin, jobs are opening faster than they can be filled. The message from employers like Tesla is urgent and clear: if you can prove you can do the work and get here now, we need you —whether you have a four-year degree or not.
Companies are getting creative to address the skills gap in the modern workforce
Tech isn't the only sector strapped for talent, as any construction foreman can tell you. At the same time, the lines between industries continue to blur. For example, research conducted by the American General Contractor's Association and Autodesk found that 80% of construction firms say craft labor is the hardest to find. As a result, firms across all four geographic regions have begun to innovate with technology like drones and 3-D printing (27%) and virtual construction or modeling software (23%) to supplement the workers they do have.
Then there are the recruitment strategies like increased base pay (66%) and direct participation by firms in career development programs at local high schools (50%) to capture interest and talent early.
1. Confront and correct outdated perceptions
The first step in preparing students for the modern workforce is debunking typical career and technical education (CTE) myths. Misconceptions that position CTE as "second best" to college prep create unnecessary stigma and keep talented students from exploring areas they would otherwise thrive in.
Ensure that the language, programming, and tools your district uses for college and career readiness do not de-prioritize CTE — even unintentionally.
2. Support student-led career exploration and give them career interest assessment tools that resonate
3. Provide real-world representation with community partnerships and work-based learning opportunities
This quote, attributed to Marian Wright Edelman, the first Black woman to gain entrance to the Mississippi bar, has become shorthand for expressing the importance of representation in education and cultural narratives, especially for underrepresented communities.
It also applies here.