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Lead Your Team Managing

Redefining the Skills Gap: What Workers Don't Know How to Do

Redefining the Skills Gap: What Workers Don't Know How to Do
Employers say workers are missing key communication skills. / Credit: Woman speaking to audience image via Shutterstock

We've all heard by now about the technical skills gap problem in America's workforce, but many companies say its workers' "soft skills" that could be holding them back, new research shows.

A study by Adecco Staffing US found that nearly 45 percent of senior executives in the United States believe soft skills, such as communication, critical thinking, creativity and collaboration, are where employees are most lacking. That's compared with just 22 percent who feel it's a lack of technical skills that is the culprit for the U.S. skills gap.

"It's interesting to see how the definition of the skills gap has evolved from being so heavily focused on technical and computer skills to 'soft' skills related to communication and creativity," said Janette Marx, senior vice president at Adecco Staffing U.S. "Educational institutions may overlook these elements in today's digital age, but schools must integrate both hard and soft skill sets into their curriculums, which in turn will help better prepare candidates and strengthen our country's workforce."

If the skills gap widens, those surveyed feel it could have serious consequences on their business. Specifically, 64 percent think they will start to lose business to companies' abroad, while 34 percent think it will hurt their research and development capabilities.

The study revealed that the manufacturing, technology and business and professional services industries have been the hardest hit by employees lacking the necessary skills.

"Although there many issues affecting our economy, the gap in skills in the U.S. workforce remains important and should be properly addressed so that it doesn't do irreparable harm to our overall workforce," Marx said. "We must look to develop employees that have a solid combination of the hard and soft skills that are necessary to succeed today and in the future."

Those surveyed say apprentice and training programs could be the answer to closing the skills gap. Nearly 90 percent of senior executives believe corporate apprenticeships or training programs could help alleviate the problem.

The study was based on surveys of 500 senior executives from a variety of industries within the United States.

Originally published on BusinessNewsDaily.

Chad  Brooks
Chad Brooks

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based freelance writer who has nearly 15 years experience in the media business. A graduate of Indiana University, he spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, covering a wide array of topics including, local and state government, crime, the legal system and education. Following his years at the newspaper Chad worked in public relations, helping promote small businesses throughout the U.S. Follow him on Twitter.