Fixing the Mismatch Between Jobs and Education

In today’s Memphis Business Journal, Ken Cook wrote an article on how to bridge the gap between jobs and education.

Mr. Cook surveyed business leaders in the manufacturing industry to get a sense of current job openings for which employers cannot find skilled laborers.  The job titles and salaries were as follows (note that these job titles and figures may be different in the Memphis metropolitan area):

  • “Electronic assembly technician — $28 an hour
  • Mechanical assembly technician — $28 an hour
  • Mechanical inspector — $24 an hour
  • Lab technician — $15 an hour
  • Field service engineer — $60k to $80k a year
  • E1 or E2 licensed electrician – $50k to $70k a year
  • Control systems engineer — $90k a year”

Employers state that while they get a lot of applications for these jobs, the applications they receive do not have the proper “skill and experience … to do the jobs.”

“I then saw a video by Kevin Fleming and Brian Y. Marsh titled Success in the New Economy …. In a little more than 10 minutes, this video clearly demonstrates the underpinnings of the problem the manufacturers are having finding qualified people. There is a distinct mis-alignment between education and the workforce requirements in demand today.”

Mr. Cook states the traditional statement of wanting more money requires a higher-level degree is not supported by “the current economic workforce requirements”.  He says, “The education for all philosophy is underlying the misalignment between job requirements and workforce capabilities.”


“In the Fleming and Marsh video, they illustrate the difference with the ratio 1:2:7. For every one job requiring a masters degree, there are two jobs requiring four-year degrees. Most significant, there are seven jobs requiring a one-year certificate or two-year associate degree.

The mis-alignment is clear. If 64 percent of high school grads go on to four-year degree programs, yet seven of 10 jobs require more focused training, you can see why so many employers have openings going unfilled.”


There is a shift among “many state economic development agencies” to “increased emphasis on community colleges and the certificate and degree programs they offer.  These programs are more focused in their curriculum, aligning the education with the economic need. That’s a great step in the right direction.”

Also helpful to people looking for work is for people who will soon graduate from high school to think about how their interests match career pathways.  Going through a “self-exploration process” that uncovers what a person likes and where his or her passions lie can help a person find a career that matches those qualities.

“Success in today’s economy screams for alignment between education and economic need. When the workforce becomes more aligned with the job requirements, employees are able to pursue their passions and employers find the skilled talent they need.”

To read the full article and see the video by Fleming and Marsh, click here


Source: Cook, K. (2017 January 17). How to fix the mismatch between jobs and education. The Memphis Business Journal. Retrieved from:



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