5 Reasons Why Managers Need to Think Hard About the Skills Gap

At Fortune’s Brainstorm Tech conference in Aspen, technology industry executives—Koru CEO Kristen Hamilton, MediaLink CEO Michael Kassan, General Assembly CEO Jake Schwartz, JetBlue Technology Ventures president Bonny Simi, and former Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer—gathered to discuss just that.

“You get what you pay for,” Schwartz said. You can’t fit staff education into a tiny budget. “I see as part of my role helping HR reframe their jobs”—and in doing so, reframe their mind around the notion that spending $30,000 to $50,000 per person for education is actually cheap in the long run. The catch? You need learning engagement, and that requires the involvement of senior leadership and meaningful personal engagement. The result, Schwartz said, “gives you, frankly, a competitive advantage.”

Kassan agreed. “We’ve tried to take it into the boardroom,” he said. “When you look at the board makeup, the percentage of people with markedly different, transformational thinking is very small.” So if you’re facing digital transformation and skills retraining, consider making unusual additions to your board, such as a CMO, he said. Only then will you approach what former Microsoft COO Michael Turner calls “performing while transforming,” Kassan said.

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