Costly ‘skills gap’ problem strikes across industries

WASHINGTON — Nearly 60 percent of U.S. employers have job openings that stay vacant for 12 weeks or longer, according to a CareerBuilder survey, and the average cost HR managers say they incur for having extended job vacancies is more than $800,000 a year.

The top reason cited is not being able to recruit qualified candidates to take the jobs, a problem not just confined to the technology industry.

“In the past, the skills gap has consistently been in the areas of health care, IT, engineering and tech jobs, but our data shows that there is a shortage of candidates in a number of other professions such as tractor-trailer truck drivers, marketing managers, web developers, so it really is across the board,” CareerBuilder’s Ladan Nikravan told WTOP.

The problem is also consistent across company sizes.

CareerBuilder said more than half of the companies it surveyed have seen a negative impact on their business due to extended job vacancies with a sizable proportion pointing to productivity issues, an increase in voluntary turnover and revenue loss.

The reason for the voluntary turnover — or losing solid employees because they quit — is in itself largely a byproduct of the skills gap. With companies aggressively competing for the talent they need, employees with in-demand skills are more likely to go where the best offers are.

Those who don’t have the skills that are in demand know it, but don’t know what to do about it.

“Twenty percent say their professional skills are not up to date, and 57 percent of workers report they want to learn a new skill set to land a better job or more fulfilling job but they don’t know what to do or they can’t afford it,” Nikravan said.

CareerBuilder and Capella Learning Solutions recently launched a free program called RightSkill that helps workers upskill and reskill for in-demand jobs within 60 days or less.

Jeff Clabaugh

Jeff Clabaugh has spent 20 years covering the Washington region's economy and financial markets for WTOP as part of a partnership with the Washington Business Journal, and officially joined the WTOP newsroom staff in January 2016.

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