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ASSOCIATION FOR CAREER & TECHNICAL EDUCATION

The Skills Gap Puzzle

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April 17, 2014

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The Skills Gap Puzzle

A new report from CareerBuilder highlights the complex, confusing and multifaceted nature of the skills gap.

Research conducted in fall 2013 by CareerBuilder asked employers, academics and job seekers, including the employed, underemployed and unemployed, about the skills gap. A few major themes came to light:

  • Employers reported hiring challenges, but many had no plans to expand on-the-job training (OJT): While 81 percent of employers said that it's at least somewhat difficult to fill job vacancies, only one-third reported offering re-skilling or cross-training, and 66 percent would not consider OJT if they were having difficulty locating candidates for a specific job.
  • Many employers also had no plans to raise wages: Despite difficulties in filling job openings, three-quarters responded that they can be selective about job offers and 35 percent reported they can pay lower wages because of the unemployment rate.
  • Job seekers and employers disagreed on the basis of the skills gap: Job seekers considered the problem to result from gaps in education and OJT, while employers pointed to a general lack of skills. Only 24 percent of employers reported that a lack of OJT is the problem.

In addition, 35 percent of employers noted that inflating the requirements for entry-level jobs is part of their skills gap problem. Job seekers also reported wishing they had gotten more career counseling in school.

The authors propose integrating more job-related skills into academic programs and highlight the role of community colleges in developing the workforce. In addition, the report suggests that employers partner with postsecondary education, change their perception of the talent and skills needed for entry-level positions and get past the fear that training employees will result in them leaving the company (in fact, research points to a higher level of loyalty from employees who receive training).

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