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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 is a Chicago-based writer and editor with nearly 20 years in media. A 1998 journalism graduate of Indiana University, Chad began his career with Business News Daily in 2011 as a freelance writer. In 2014, he joined the staff full time as a senior writer. Before Business News Daily, Chad 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. Chad has also worked on the other side of the media industry, promoting small businesses throughout the United States for two years in a public relations role. His first book, How to Start a Home-Based App Development Business, was published in 2014. He lives with his wife and daughter in the Chicago suburbs.