Skills gap among job seekers means those who have the skills will be the ones hired

Skills gap

Human resource managers report that trade skills, like welding, are among the top three skills that are lacking among jobseekers.

Those leaving prison and exploring potential work opportunities may be pleased to know that there are many jobs going unfilled these days. And the job seekers who have developed the skills for certain kinds of work will be the ones who will succeed.

For the first time in more than two decades last year, the number of jobs available outpaced the number of people who were looking for work. According to the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM), while there were 7 million job openings in the U.S. in December 2018, for example, only 6.3 million unemployed people were searching for employment.

While it appears to be a job seekers market, the opportunities will come to those who have the proper skills.

The Society for Human Resource Management represents 300,000 members in more than 165 countries, making it the world’s largest human resources professional society. Its “2019 State of the Workplace: Exploring the Impact of the Skills Gap and Employment-Based Immigration”  survey found that 83% of respondents had difficulty recruiting suitable candidates in the previous 12 months.

Why U.S.-based human resource managers can’t find suitable candidates

Among the reasons for the difficulty are the facts that:

  • The candidates do not have the right technical skills. (Reported by 35% of respondents.)
  • There was a low number of applicants or a lack of interest in the organization. (Reported by 33% of respondents.)
  • The candidates do not have the right workplace. (soft) skills. (Reported by 30% of respondents.)

While 75% of those with recruiting difficulties feel that applicants lack skills, certain skills – both technical and soft skills – are more in demand than others.

The top three missing technical skills:

  1. Trade skills, including carpentry, machining, welding and plumbing. (Reported by 31% of respondents.)
  2. Data analysis and data science. (Reported by 20% of respondents.)
  3. Science, engineering and medical. (Reported by 18% of respondents.)

The top three missing soft skills:

  1. Problem solving, creativity, innovation and critical thinking. (Reported by 37% of respondents.)
  2. Ability to deal with ambiguity and complexity. (Reported by 32% of respondents.)
  3. Communication. (Reported by 30% of respondents.)

As far as the skills gap, things are getting worse. More than half of the respondents to the SHRM survey reported that the shortage of skills has either worsened or dramatically worsened during the previous two years. Less than 10% found any improvement.

The Society for Human Resource Management’s skills gap survey was completed by 1,028 U.S.-based SHRM members between September 12 and 26, 2018.

The moral of this story

While there are increasing opportunities available for job seekers, those who succeed are the ones who are able to develop both the hard – and soft – skills that will set them apart.

But one must be realistic regarding what can be done and what aspects of one’s personality can be changed. As Marty Nemko a leading thought leader in career counseling, points out in his article, The Malleability Myth, “geneticists are finding: much of who we are is hard-wired.”  And he goes on to say, “I’ve been most successful helping clients find careers and jobs in which their strengths are valued and their weaknesses are of minimal consequence.”

This is good advice for all job hunters. Find the work that fits you. But at the same time do what you can to improve your skills.


$10-$20 can make a difference and provide funding to send job search books to prison and jail libraries and expand our tattoo removal outreach.

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