Learning retention infrastructure is essential for overcoming the skilled worker diversity gap
The skilled worker diversity gap remains a pressing issue in today's workforce. Addressing this gap is crucial for fostering a more diverse and inclusive workforce, which not only benefits the individuals involved but also the organizations they work for and the communities they serve.
Understanding the skilled worker diversity gap
The skilled worker diversity gap refers to the underrepresentation of certain demographic groups, such as people of color or people from low-income backgrounds, in skilled professions. This gap is particularly relevant today as it perpetuates inequality and limits opportunities for socioeconomic progress.
The diversity gap in medicine is a prime example of this issue. According to the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), only 5.8% of physicians are Hispanic, despite forming 18.7% of the population, and just 5% of physicians are Black or African American, despite representing 12.1% of the population (AAMC, 2018).
Why the skilled worker diversity gap is detrimental to patients
The skilled worker diversity gap negatively impacts patients from marginalized groups, such as racial minorities, people from low socioeconomic backgrounds, and the LGBTQ community. When healthcare providers lack diversity, it can result in inadequate care and worsened health outcomes for these patients.
For example, studies have shown that racial and ethnic minority patients tend to have better health outcomes when treated by physicians of the same race or ethnicity. This is attributed to improved communication, increased trust, and a better understanding of cultural nuances (LaVeist et al., 2011). Furthermore, a diverse healthcare workforce can help to address health disparities faced by minority patients, as minority physicians are more likely to practice in underserved areas and serve minority populations (Marrast et al., 2014).
The vicious cycle
The skilled worker diversity gap creates a vicious cycle that limits intergenerational socioeconomic mobility. This cycle perpetuates inequality and hinders the ability of these groups to access opportunities for social and economic advancement.
Several factors contribute to this problem, some of which are discussed here:
Lack of role models
Underrepresentation of marginalized groups in skilled professions can lead to a lack of role models and mentors for aspiring professionals from these communities. Research has shown that having role models from similar backgrounds is crucial for fostering self-efficacy, motivation, and resilience in students and young professionals (Zirkel, 2002). The absence of diverse role models in skilled professions makes it more difficult for individuals from marginalized backgrounds to envision themselves succeeding in these fields.
“This cycle perpetuates inequality and hinders the ability of these groups to access opportunities for social and economic advancement.”
Bias in hiring
The skilled worker diversity gap can perpetuate biases and discrimination in the workforce. This can manifest in various forms, such as hiring practices, workplace culture, and promotion opportunities, ultimately hindering the career progression of individuals from underrepresented groups (Pager & Shepherd, 2008). Discrimination in the workforce can discourage talented individuals from pursuing skilled professions, further exacerbating the diversity gap.
Causes income inequality, caused by income inequality
Skilled professions often come with higher incomes and greater job security, which can facilitate socioeconomic progress for individuals and their families. However, the underrepresentation of marginalized groups in these professions perpetuates the cycle of inequality and limits access to resources and opportunities that could help break the cycle (Chetty et al., 2014).
The effect of the skills gap on the economy
The skills gap has a significant impact on the economy, as it results in lost productivity, reduced growth, and missed opportunities for innovation. When employers struggle to find skilled workers to fill open positions, businesses can suffer from reduced efficiency, decreased competitiveness, and ultimately, lower profits. As a consequence, the overall economy may experience sluggish growth due to a lack of skilled labor.
Recent research shows that skill gaps are currently costing the U.S. economy around $13 billion per month (Chamber of Commerce, 2021). This number is projected to increase. Deloitte estimates that the skills gap will cost the U.S. economy $2.5 trillion over the next decade (Deloitte, 2021). To combat these economic consequences, it is essential to invest in long-term learning solutions that address the root causes of the skills gap and empower individuals with the necessary knowledge and abilities to succeed in skilled professions.
“Deloitte estimates that the skills gap will cost the U.S. economy $2.5 trillion over the next decade.”
The role of learning retention infrastructure in addressing the diversity gap
Learning retention infrastructure refers to the systems, tools, and resources that empower learners to retain what they've learned regardless of their circumstances. Effective learning retention infrastructure means that every step takes a learner forward, instead of just wasting time recovering from learning loss.
By providing accessible and effective long-term learning opportunities, a robust infrastructure can help underrepresented groups succeed in skilled professions and contribute to closing the diversity gap. This, in turn, can result in a more inclusive and diverse workforce, which has been shown to improve productivity, innovation, and overall organizational performance.
Financial barriers can impede underrepresented groups from accessing long-term learning opportunities. For example, the cost of higher education in the United States has risen dramatically over the past few decades, making it increasingly difficult for students from low-income backgrounds to afford college (Goldrick-Rab et al., 2016). Additionally, the high cost of professional development programs and certification courses can be prohibitive for individuals from marginalized communities.
High skill jobs can provide stability and intergenerational socioeconomic progress. However, the individuals and families that could benefit most from these jobs are often deterred due to the reasons discussed above. Courses that review content covered for the MCAT or difficult certifications can be prohibitively expensive, creating a significant competitive disadvantage for prospective medical students who cannot afford them.
How Etch helps educational content creators close the gap
Educational content that implements spaced repetition learning (SRL) can be completed on the learner's timeline, empowering them to maintain knowledge and avoid the need to pay for an expensive review courses.
Despite the overwhelming evidence for SRL integration into education and upskilling, it is still not a widely used practice. Etch breaks down barriers to the integration of SRL into the education system by aligning the incentives of publishers (protect IP, increase CLV, expand impact), institutions (integrate with LMS, keep costs low, avoid overhaul of tech stack), and learners (user-friendly, centralized platform, avoids need for repeat work typically required of current SRL platforms, no subscription fee for platform use).
Through Etch, the education and upskilling system becomes one that is accessible to individuals of all backgrounds and resources. Etch ensures that the system is sustainable by considering the needs of all stakeholders in education.
“Through Etch, the education and upskilling system becomes one that is accessible to individuals of all backgrounds and resources.”
By using Etch to integrate their content with user-friendly learning retention capabilities, Etch enables educational content to help solve the skilled worker diversity gap.
Contribute to the solution with Etch
Addressing the skilled worker diversity gap is a collective responsibility that can significantly benefit both society and the economy. Educational publishers have a crucial role to play in this process. By collaborating with Etch, publishers can leverage our innovative spaced repetition learning platform to enhance the learning experience of their students, contribute to closing the diversity gap, and promote upward intergenerational mobility.
Reach out to find out how to schedule a free pilot with your organization.