A Conversation with Melody Barnes on Closing the Skills Gap


Since the Great Recession, the economy has rebounded and the unemployment rate has fallen from a high of 10 percent to 4.8 percent, which economists consider “full employment.” But many people are still having a hard time finding full-time work and many companies are having a hard time finding people to fill their positions.

At the end of 2016, 7.6 million people were unemployed while 5.5 million jobs were available and unfilled, according to the BLS. This gap between the unemployed and available jobs is what has become known as the employability gap, or skills gap—the difference between the skills that employers need to get the job done and the skills that potential employees have.

And as we look to the future, the problem is only becoming more serious. A report from Georgetown University estimates that by 2020, some 63 percent of the projected 48 million U.S. job openings will require some sort of post-secondary education.

Chauncy Lennon, PhD, JPMorgan Chase’s senior program director for Workforce Development, recently spoke with Melody Barnes, chair of the Aspen Forum for Community Solutions and former assistant to the President and Director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, about what works to solve the nation’s skills gap.

You can read her full interview here.