In Minnesota—and across America—employers are facing a massive shortfall in skilled workers. One potential solution is too often overlooked, says The Wall Street Journal. In a recent article entitled “Evolving at Work,” the Journal offers a fascinating look at the innovative ways some employers are “reskilling” their current workers to meet evolving needs.

A major reason employers often “choose the disruption and high costs” of recruiting new workers is that companies generally “have only a hazy sense of what their internal talent is capable of,” according to the Journal. That’s changing. For example,

Amazon.com Inc. will soon begin offering a path for workers to rise from warehouses to data centers, doubling their earnings along the way and helping Amazon staff a fast-growing part of the business.

Fulfillment-center employees can go through a 16-week certification program in glass-walled classrooms built inside Amazon warehouses and, if the retailer hires them as data technicians, their wages will rise from an average $15 an hour to $30. A spokesman says Amazon is exploring other upskilling initiatives.

J.P.Morgan Chase & Co. is

rolling out a platform called “skills passport.” The project so far has been deployed in the bank’s IT department, and it will soon be tested with employees in operations roles. Workers use it to take assessments to measure their current skills, and view career options and a curated list of activities and training they can take, said Jennie Sparandara, head of workforce intiatives.

AT&T’s Future Ready program lets works assess their skills, and then earn short-term badges and nano degrees that take up to a year to finish. A spokesman says the program has helped the company avoid a great deal of external hiring. “We’ve moved people across groups in really dramatic fashion,” he told the Journal.

Tenaris SA, a maker of steel pipes, initially tried to be very prescriptive in the retraining it proposed to employees. The results were disappointing. Now the company

puts more responsibility on the shoulders of workers to determine the skills they will need moving forward and urges them to use a company-sponsored online learning platform to retrain themselves. “We’re placing the employee in the center,” said [human resources chief Paola Mazzoleni].

The Journal article features a series of charts that lay out potential career paths (with accompanying wage increases), including how reskilling can work with jobs like assembly machine operator, laborer/warehouse worker, data entry clerk, and IT help desk technician/analyst.

In conclusion, the article asks—and answers—a central question:

How to break through the challenges, inefficiencies and resistance? Matt Sigelman, chief executive of Burning Glass Technologies, a labor-market research firm, said employers and educators can do a better job of helping people find logical, reasonable career paths. Labor experts call this “skill adjacencies,” essentially diagnosing a person’s present skills and identifying promising careers that offer higher wages or growth in demand while requiring minimal investments of time and money in retraining.

“We need a Waze for your career,” Mr. Sigelman said, referring to the navigation app that offers real-time maps and driving directions. “You could look at jobs that are adjacent to your skillset or role, and with fairly light training, you can make a jump into a better job.”

The secret to successful reskilling, he says: keeping training short enough and achievable enough that workers can learn real skills and both they and employers get a return on investment.

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