The American Skills Gap is Real

Today, America’s unemployment rate remains low, at or below 4.0%. And there are more job openings than ever, even outpacing the number of unemployed people. Generally speaking, companies are hiring because they’re doing well and need the help. The thing is, they’re often hiring people who lack the ideal skills, meaning they have to “upskill” them later. This makes for a difficult dynamic—a dynamic referred to as the skills gap.


The Impact of the Skills Gap

According to our survey, 92% of executives think that American workers aren't as skilled as they need to be. As a result, nearly half (45%) feel that they are missing out on growth opportunities, while 34% feel that product development is suffering, and 30% think that company profits are being hurt.
Problems galore, and it’s not an easy fix. Companies have to either operate without certain skill sets that they really need, or invest in training and upskilling their staff, which can be a costly and time-consuming endeavor, especially when considering the types of skills that are lacking.

Hard Skills vs. Soft Skills – Where is the skills gap?

It’s probably unsurprising to you that there’s a skills gap. However, what might come as a surprise is which skills are lacking among U.S. workers. 44% of the executives we surveyed think Americans are lacking critical soft skills such as communication, creativity, collaboration, critical thinking, etc. Thus, while candidates may look good on paper, they don’t know how to effectively work within a team or in an office. Adding to the issue is the fact that soft skills are more difficult to learn than hard skills. (Think of hard skills as more teachable, technical abilities.)
This is why it’s so important to look beyond the resume when making a hiring decision. You need to evaluate everything a candidate brings to the table, including soft skills, hard skills, experience, personality and attitude.

Skills Gap – Key Takeaways

There are a few major takeaways we’d like to mention here.

Industries most affected by the skills gap:
Manufacturing – 30%
Technology – 21%

Industries least affected by the skills gap:
Finance – 2%
Leisure & Hospitality – 2%

89% of respondents think that corporate apprenticeship or training programs could help alleviate the skills gap.

The skills gap is a real issue that will take the efforts of you, us, governments and educational institutions to resolve. First, we have to understand all of the details and data points surrounding it. For more of those data points, check out our infographic.

Infographic - skills gap in american workforce

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