The Workforce’s Billion Dollar Problem: Unskilled Workers

April 13, 2017 Ladan Nikravan

skills gap

We’ve all heard of the skills gap by now: Companies have lots of open positions but can’t find enough workers with the skills they need. But did you know these unfilled positions come at a high cost? According to a new CareerBuilder survey, nearly 60 percent of U.S. employers (56 percent) have job openings that stay vacant for 12 weeks or longer. The average cost HR managers say they incur for having extended job vacancies is more than $800,000 annually.

According to the survey, 68 percent of employers who said they were increasing their number of full-time, permanent employees in the first quarter (Jan.1-March 31, 2017) currently have open positions for which they cannot find qualified candidates. This is consistent across company sizes with larger companies – which tend to have more job openings in general:

  • 1-50 employees: 49 percent
  • 51-250 employees: 74 percent
  • 251-500 employees: 72 percent
  • 501+ employees: 71 percent

 

More Than Money is Being Lost

Two in 3 employers (67 percent) say they are concerned about the growing skills gap, and with good reason. More than half (55 percent) say they have seen a negative impact on their business due to extended job vacancies with a sizable proportion of these employers pointing to productivity issues, an increase in voluntary turnover and revenue loss:

  • Productivity loss: 45 percent
  • Higher employee turnover: 40 percent
  • Lower morale: 39 percent
  • Lower quality work: 37 percent
  • Inability to grow business: 29 percent
  • Revenue loss: 26 percent

 

What You Can Do

Bridging the skills gap can have an exponentially positive impact on workers, businesses and the greater community. The most sustainable and thriving communities are those with good jobs. That’s why businesses should take an active role in cultivating the talents of today’s and tomorrow’s generations of workers – and these three steps can make an impact.

Start early: The skills gap in the U.S. is in large part an information gap — many young people are unaware of jobs that are in high-demand, pay well and are aligned with what they’re passionate about. Businesses need to do a better job of informing students of fast-growing fields, so they can discover career options that not only provide job security, but pay well. Get in front of students at an early age.

To this end, CareerBuilder and our economists at Economic Modeling Specialists Intl. (EMSI) created Find Your Calling, a free website to help students discover career and education options based on data from more than 100 employment resources. Visitors on the website start with a simple, interactive personality test for careers. The student is then presented with careers that match their interests with details ranging from job growth projections, salary ranges and businesses that are hiring to college programs they can apply to today.

Create the perfect candidate: Businesses should also invest in reskilling the current workforce to create the perfect hire, instead of waiting for one to come along. The good news is half of U.S. companies are already taking action. Fifty-four percent said they have trained workers who have no experience in their industry or field and hired them. Forty-six percent of employers have hired a low-skill worker and trained him/her for a higher-skill job within the last two years.

To help with this, last year Capella Learning Solutions and CareerBuilder launched an initiative called RightSkill, which enables workers to upskill and reskill for in-demand jobs within 60 days or less. The program, which is currently free for candidates, teaches competencies online based on real-time data and guidance from employers.

Join forces with educators: Partnerships between universities, corporate training organizations and corporations isn’t new. Companies like IBM have been teaming up with universities since the early days of computer science education more than 70 years ago. But, as the debate over the skills gap accelerates, collaborations between educational facilities and businesses should become more sophisticated and evolve to meet shifting economic, marketplace and educational needs. As the next-generation partnerships are anointed, you can help guide the formation of curriculum so the workforce of the future can keep up with rapid technological changes.

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