State of the Economy and Employment

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Methodology & Background

Adecco Group North America’s survey of senior executives (VP and above) gathered insights into the current state of the economy and employment situation.

Telephone survey of 500 senior executives*

  • Fielded by Braun Research
  • Conducted August 15-23, 2013

Differences between various demographics groups were also explored:

  • Gender
  • Generation
  • Geographic Region
  • Company Size
  • Company Revenue
  • Industry

Survey results have a margin of error +/-4.4% for this sample size.


Key Findings

America’s skills gap is not just about technical skills

An overwhelming majority of senior executives (92 percent) feel that there is a gap in the U.S. workforce skills.

  • Surprisingly, the majority of the gap is not technical (22 percent), leadership (14 percent) or computer skills (12 percent) that the U.S. workforce is lacking today – senior executives feel the gap is in the soft skills (44 percent) such as communication, critical thinking, creativity and collaboration.
  • However when it comes to computer skills specifically, Gen X  senior executives (21 percent -- more than any other generation of senior executives surveyed) feels this is where the gap in skills most affects the U.S. workforce.

Thirty percent of senior executives overall feel the skills gap most affects the manufacturing industry.

  • Other industries noted for having a gap include technology (21 percent) and professional and business services (19 percent).

Key Findings

The skills gap is a threat to businesses, but not a direct threat to the economy

  • Of senior executives who believe there is a U.S. skills gap, most (64 percent) feel the greatest threat to U.S. businesses is investment going to companies abroad instead of staying in U.S.
  • Nearly half (45 percent) of  senior executives believe  businesses are missing out on growth opportunities as a result of the skills gap in the U.S and about one-third (34 percent) feel R&D / product development is suffering as a result of the U.S. skills gap.
  • Only 30 percent of senior executives who believe there’s a skills gap in the U.S. workforce feel company profits are suffering as a result.

Yet, as dire as the need is for skilled workers in the U.S., only slightly more than one in 10 (13 percent) senior executives feel a lack of skilled workers is a top threat to the U.S. economy.

  • Senior executives cited federal spending (24 percent), global competition (22 percent) and high unemployment (20 percent) as what they feel to be the greatest threats to the U.S. economy.
  • However there were some discrepancies on what the greatest threats to the U.S. economy were when it came to generation and geographic region:
    • Gen X senior executives (33 percent) are more likely than Boomer senior executives (14 percent) to feel that high unemployment is the greatest threat to the U.S. economy.
    • And senior executives in the Northeast (29 percent) are more likely than those in the West (8 percent) and South (6 percent) to think that a lack of skilled workers to fill jobs is the greatest threat to the U.S. economy.

Key Findings

Senior executives believe the skills gap has less to do with complacency on the part of American workers and more to do with the U.S. education system and costs associated with in-house training programs

More than half (59 percent) of senior executives do not feel colleges / universities in the U.S. offer curriculums that prepare graduates with the skills needed for today’s workforce. 

Less than one-quarter (23 percent) of senior executives feel the skills gap is the result of a lack of interest from job seekers in pursuing careers in sectors / fields affected by the skills gap.

Among those senior executives who believe there is a U.S. workforce skills gap, the vast majority (89 percent) thinks that corporate apprenticeship or training programs could help alleviate the skills gap in the U.S. workforce.

Among senior executives who believe there is a skills gap in the U.S. workforce, 42 percent feel the greatest barrier to creating in-house training programs is the cost of development.

  • Fewer than one-in-five (17 percent) senior executives believe a lack of employee participation is a barrier to creating in-house training programs.

Labor costs in the U.S. stifling growth and employment

Six in 10 (61 percent) senior executives feel that the top challenge facing foreign companies expanding to the U.S. is the high cost of labor in the U.S.

  • Secondary to this issue are U.S. healthcare costs (37 percent), U.S. labor regulations (36 percent), lack of skilled workers in the U.S. (33 percent) and U.S. union demands (32 percent).

MAIN FINDINGS

Americas skills gap is not just about technical skills


MAIN FINDINGS

The skills gap is a threat to businesses, but not a direct threat to the economy


MAIN FINDINGS

Senior executives believe the skills gap has less to do with complacency on the part of American workers and more to do with the U.S. education system and costs associated with in-house training programs


MAIN FINDINGS

Labor costs in the U.S. are stifling growth and employment

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