NEW YORK — Wanted: Americans with coding skills.
That’s the message from hundreds of companies today. Right now, there are 5.4 million job openings in the United States, near a record high.
There’s also a large number of people — 8 million Americans — who are are out of work and hunting for jobs. So what’s the problem? Most of the people looking for jobs don’t have the skills employers want.
Just about everyone has heard the push for “STEM education.” America needs more scientists and tech geeks, we’re told. Well, there’s a reason for that. LinkedIn analyzed the most popular skills mentioned in job postings around the world. Here are the top five in the U.S.:
1. Cloud computing
2. Data mining
3. Mobile development
4. Network security
5. Middleware and integration software
The list goes on. The top 25 skills are almost all tech and data related.
“There isn’t a company with over 50 employees that isn’t looking for some sort of data, analytic or statistical-driven person to help them better understand their data,” says Tom Gimbel, CEO of LaSalle Network, a recruiting and staffing firm in Chicago. (Sure enough, CNN is looking for some coders and data experts too).
Temp jobs also growing fast
Gimbel’s firm places about 10,000 people a year in jobs. He says two parts of his business are really booming right now: technology and temp jobs.
The U.S. economy is a tale of two extremes: really skilled jobs that pay $100,000 and then low-skilled jobs that pay minimum wage or close to it. It’s the big brain and barista economy.
CareerBuilder, another popular website for job searches and postings, took a look at the fastest growing temp jobs. Some like nursing assistants, team assemblers and retail workers pay less than $15 an hour.
Others like computer service representatives, administrative assistants and construction workers typically pay $15 to $16 an hour. Those extra dollars make a difference for poor and lower middle class workers.
How to fix the skills gap
Workers want higher-paying jobs, but there’s a big debate about how to get them the necessary skills. Better education? More on-the-job training? More highly-skilled immigrants? All of the above?
“I have 30,000 technology jobs open,” Democrat Gov. Terry McAuliffe of Virginia said Monday at the Milken Conference in California. Many of the job openings are in cybersecurity, but companies can’t find trained workers.
McAuliffe and several other governors suggested a mix of job training, apprenticeships and curriculum change in schools to combat the skills gap. Workers of all ages also have to take some initiative to retrain throughout their lives.
“Ask yourself how much are you spending on your children’s swim lessons, private coaches and practices,” says Gimbel.
Why aren’t adults investing the same money in themselves and their careers?
CNNMoney’s Patrick Gillespie contributed to this report.