According to the American Staffing Association, there are currently eight million people who are actively seeking employment, and yet over five million jobs are going unfilled.  Only six out of ten working-age individuals are employed or seeking a job despite the declining unemployment rate.  It would appear that the job market is stuck in a skills gap; a perceived mismatch between the needs of employers for skilled talent and the skills possessed by the available workforce. 

There are a number of factors that contribute to a skills gap.  There may be a shortage of talent, or wages simply aren’t high enough to attract specialized talent.  30% of job seekers are looking for a new job because they are dissatisfied with their salary, however, many of them are unsuccessful due to employers’ high skill demands.  Research has recently shown that many employers set their standards too high and have unrealistic expectations of job applicant training and experience. In addition, students aren’t being properly prepared for real work when they enter the job force.  60% of job seekers believe necessary skills will be learned on the job, but 52% of employers think job candidates lack necessary skills.  24% of job seekers and employers feel gaps in job training are a leading cause of the skills gap.

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The unemployment rate plays a role as well.  The rate is expected to drop to 5.1% by the end of 2015 and, as a result, 75% of employers think they can be more selective of their candidates.  However, eight out of ten employers have trouble filling jobs and 50% of them have an open job for which they cannot find qualified candidates.  In general, it takes over seven months to fill 40% of available jobs in the current market.

Despite these puzzling statistics, the skills gap could be narrowed if employers can change the way they look at their candidates.  Start looking beyond job titles on resumes, and instead judge a candidate’s qualifications based on the interview. Find out what the candidates actually know and have done. There should be realistic expectations regarding job descriptions and training.  When looking for more specialized candidates, pay rates need to be set based on talent supply and demand.  Employers may have to take a chance and hire someone they see great potential in, even if the person is not a perfect fit on paper.

If you are an employer who is facing difficulty filling open positions, or experiencing challenges due to the current skills gap, please contact us and we will be happy to assist you.

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