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Skills gap: a growing concern for employers

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Jessica Miller-Merrell, blogging4jobs

Last year, companies spent 12 percent more on training employees than in recent years. This can certainly be taken as a good sign, showing that companies are investing in their workforce and that the improving economy is allowing them the funds to do so, but it also speaks to the growing concern of the skills gap in America.

Even as hundreds of thousands of jobs are being added each month, employers are struggling to fill them. One of the major reasons for this is the skills gap, or the difficulty employers have in filling positions with employees who already have the skills needed to perform the job. In fact, 67 percent of employers indicated that they have a difficult time recruiting candidates for specific job openings. While the skills gap is nothing new, it is growing. That 67 percent is an increase of 14 percent from the year before, evidencing this growing trend.

So why has there been such an increase from the year before? It is largely due to the fact that industries requiring highly-skilled professionals are rapidly growing. Technology, medicine and science, for instance, have each grown tremendously. Positions for scientist, engineers and highly-qualified medical professionals are some of the most difficult to fill, with 88, 86 and 83 percent of employers, respectively, reporting difficulty in finding qualified candidates.

However, it’s not just these highly-skilled positions that are difficult to fill. Many people point their finger at our colleges and universities when looking for a reason for the skills gap. Whether it’s business, social work or another field of study, many believe that today’s college graduates aren’t prepared to enter the workforce. Some schools have developed partnerships with businesses in an attempt to bridge the skills gap, but it still remains a significant concern.

Beyond technical and professional skills, employers also seek candidates who have what are some of the hardest to teach: personal skills. More and more organizations are seeking employees who are good communicators, good leaders and who have a good work ethic. While companies know that you can train employees to have the skills they need for a job, the most successful employees are those who are natural leaders, problem solvers and thinkers.

Though the skills employers are looking for vary greatly, the problem is one and the same. The issue of skills gap is something that will likely continue to grow throughout the years.

What does your organization do to bridge the skills gap? Let us know in the comments below.  

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