Much has been written about the need to get younger generations interested in STEM fields. I’ve recently run across a blog post on how the maker movement can get kids interested in engineering and product development and an article suggesting the manufacturing industry make kids as excited about engineering as they are about rock and roll.
Presenting STEM fields as desirable career options for young people obviously has its merits, but shouldn’t there also be a focus on developing the STEM skills of individuals who are already in technical fields? This was the topic of a recent webinar presentation by APQC’s Marisa Brown. In her presentation Marisa highlighted that many organizations are worried that technology advancements are outpacing the creation of technical experts. In fact, a good number of organizations have named increasing the expertise of their STEM employees a significant priority.
However, the response from many organizations has been to invest in skill development for novices, or employees that are new to the field. Mid-career employees, often referred to as “nex’perts” because of their skill potential, are often left behind. APQC’s research indicates that 42 percent of organizations engage only in small pockets of development for these employees.
To reduce the nex’pert gap, an organization’s leaders and existing experts can determine the critical knowledge that must be captured and passed down to technical employees. The organization can also provide tools to navigate, filter, and customize the flow of knowledge. The goal should be to balance the development of novices with enhancement opportunities for existing technical employees.
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