Survey: 22% of US Businesses Face an Employee Skills Gap

74% of organizations polled say that it's "more difficult today to attract qualified candidates."

Nearly a quarter of US employers (22%) are dealing with a specific problem: A skills gap. Employees with the analytical and communication skills needed for their positions aren't interested or available in the numbers that these businesses need, a new survey has found.

In addition, another 42% say that a skills gap will become a problem for them within the next two-year period.

Some businesses hope that AI can help, but others are embracing a more immediate solution, upskilling. By helping current employees gain the skills needed, businesses can more efficiently tackle their skills gap problem.

Reasons Behind the Skills Gap: Tech, Employee Turnover, & Labor Shortages

Candidates with the skills that organizations need are hard to attract: 74% of organizations polled say that it's “more difficult today to attract qualified candidates.” The news is from Salary.com, which has released the results of their survey this week.

But why are skilled workers so hard to find?

The top three cited reasons are changing technology (52%), employee turnover (50%), and labor shortages (48%). Employees, it seems, are more willing to move on from positions that don't offer them the compensation they need.

70% of organizations say their solution is to invest further in employee development initiatives. Upskilling current employees can lead to loyal workers with the skills needed to fill the gap that a quarter of businesses are facing.

The Biggest Skills Needed? Communication and Critical Thinking.

The most in-demand skills were also listed by the report. Here, in order, are the top five skills organizations are looking for in job-seekers:

  1. Effective communication (65%)
  2. Problem solving (55%)
  3. Critical thinking (47%)
  4. Attention to detail (43%)
  5. Analytical thinking (41%)

In other words, businesses really need analytical workers to help with job decisions, and, most importantly, they need stellar communicators who can effectively share those decisions with their team.

Can Companies Rely on AI to Save Them?

Artificial intelligence is an attractive stop-gap solution to executives faced with fewer skilled workers: Assuming AI can replace workers, it's a far less costly solution to keeping a business up and running.

And if AI can't do the job, even just the threat that a worker could be replaced by an algorithm can have a chilling effect on an otherwise strong labor market, ensuring that workers are willing to accept being underpaid.

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While low-wage workers might be replaced by AI, skilled workers are far less likely to be replaced.

The new report indicates that managers are very interested in how AI can help them, but have not manifested this interest quite yet. 70% of the organizations surveyed are not currently using ChatGPT, the report finds.

But almost a third32% — say that ChatGPT could “maybe” change the types of skills they're looking for in their employees. For now, it seems, AI remains a potential game-changer rather than a proven one.

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Written by:

Adam is a writer at Tech.co and has worked as a tech writer, blogger and copy editor for more than a decade. He was a Forbes Contributor on the publishing industry, for which he was named a Digital Book World 2018 award finalist. His work has appeared in publications including Popular Mechanics and IDG Connect, and his art history book on 1970s sci-fi, 'Worlds Beyond Time,' is out from Abrams Books in July 2023. In the meantime, he's hunting down the latest news on VPNs, POS systems, and the future of tech.

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