Impact of the American Skills Gap

In our post-pandemic economy, the unemployment rate continues to hover around historic lows. And thanks to the Great Resignation where, at its peak, saw 1.9 job openings for every eligible worker, many companies are turning to inexperienced staff to fill empty roles. Hiring managers now are more likely to extend job offers to 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.

5 minutes

January 16, 2023 Adecco

Young female engineer working with manufacturing equipment in a factory.

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. In a recent survey, 64% of hiring managers said they have difficulty finding employees with adequate critical thinking skills while 55% and 54% said respectively that listening skills and interpersonal skills were the hardest skills to find in job applicants.

While candidates may look good on paper due to their hard skills training, they might not 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.) making candidates that excel in soft skills hard to come by.

Therefore, 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:
Data Analytics – 43%
IT – 26%

Industries least affected by the skills gap:
Finance – 14%
Supply Chain Management – 9%

69% of all managers believe it is important for companies to provide coaching and mentoring on soft skills like leadership skills

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.

Looking for more insights? Check out the data from an executive survey we conducted a few years back. 

Infographic - skills gap in american workforce