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Who’s responsible for the skills gap?

College and universities around the country held their fall commencements this month. So hiring is top of mind for these graduates and their future employers.

But graduation always brings up the question: Is there a skills gap in the workforce?

Most research says yes.

Just in time, last week, the American Staffing Association released its most recent edition of American Staffing Association Workforce Monitor. The survey of 2,000 adults found most Americans believe schools, employers and the government share responsibility for the workplace skills gap.

But respondents also think individual accountability is a contributing factor.

For example, 72 percent of respondents reported students choosing not to study science, technology, engineering or mathematics was a major reason for the skills gap.

At the same time, 92 percent of Americans believe employees should keep up their skills in a changing working environment.

While education and professional development are indeed necessary, blame also falls on employers. The survey found about six out of 10 U.S. adults cite several employer-driven failures as being responsible for the skills gap challenge:

  • Failing to provide training (69 percent)
  • Not offering apprenticeship programs (63 percent)
  • Not communicating expectations to employees (61 percent)
  • Having unrealistic expectations of job candidates' skills (58 percent)

More than 75 percent of respondents believe the government should provide better incentives to businesses to provide professional development.

“The ASA Workforce Monitor findings support that there is no single cause nor solution to closing America’s growing skills gap—blame for the root causes is shared, with individual accountability a key factor,” said Richard Wahlquist, ASA president and CEO. “People at all stages of their lives must commit to lifelong learning to maintain their future employability and ensure that the U.S. has the skilled workforce needed to sustain productivity-driven growth and competitiveness.”

Provided as part of the report are data for sub-categories, such as training.

When it comes to training, most Americans believe job training and professional development are essential. The report found 61 percent of workers think their employers could provide more training opportunities. At the same time, 76 percent said training helps with employee recruiting and 61 percent said it helps with retention.

Finally, 67 percent of workers value cross-training to learn skills for a different job and 61 percent want professional certifications for their work.

What are your thoughts? Do you think there’s a skills gap?

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