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Survey finds gap in workforce soft skills

September 30 2013

The U.S. skills gap is much more than a dearth of technical, computer skills, according to the State of the Economy and Employment Survey from Adecco Staffing US. In the survey, 92 percent of senior executives in the U.S. acknowledge there is a serious gap in workforce skills and 44 percent of respondents cited soft skills — such as communication, critical thinking, creativity and collaboration — as the area with the biggest gap. Twenty-two percent cited a lack of technical skills as the culprit for the U.S. skills gap, followed by with leadership with 14 percent and computer skills with 12 percent.

“It's interesting to see how the definition of the skills gap has evolved from being so heavily focused on technical and computer skills to ‘soft’ skills related to communication and creativity," said Janette Marx, senior vice president at Adecco Staffing US. “Educational institutions may overlook these elements in today's digital age, but schools must integrate both hard and soft skill sets into their curriculums, which in turn will help better prepare candidates and strengthen our country's workforce.”

Other findings include:

  • 59 percent of respondents do not believe colleges and universities in the U.S. offer curriculums that adequately prepare students for today's workforce.
  • Among those respondents who said there is a skills gap in the U.S. workforce, 89 percent believe corporate apprenticeships or training programs could help alleviate the problem. Yet, 42 percent said the greatest barrier to creating in-house training programs is the cost of development.
  • Of those who believe there is a skills gap in the United States, 30 percent said it most affects the manufacturing industry. Twenty-one percent cited technology and 19 percent cited professional and business services.

The telephone survey included 500 senior executives – vice president and above – across a variety of industries within the United States. It was conducted from Aug. 15 to Aug. 23, 2013.

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