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A Quarter of US Employers Surveyed by Salary.com are Battling a Skills Gap with Another 42% Saying It Will Hit Them Within 2 Years

A third say emergence of ChatGPT will change the type of skills they seek

How urgent is the workforce skills gap? According to new data from Salary.com® the skills gap is here for almost a quarter of U.S. employers surveyed, with another 42 percent stating it will hit them within the next two years. The Salary.com 2023 Workforce Skills Gap Survey also confirmed the labor shortage continues to impact hiring, with almost three-quarters stating it is more difficult today to find qualified candidates.

Despite already experiencing the negative impact of the gap, most organizations surveyed are not prepared to address it. Only 14 percent have conducted a skills audit and a quarter have a skills and competency framework to support their efforts. The survey conducted by Salary.com, had a total of 425 HR and talent management professionals participating, representing a variety of industries and organizational sizes.

Top drivers of the skills gap

Advancing technology is cited as the biggest contributor to the skills gap, though survey respondents have not yet fully determined how the emergence of generative AI will impact the skills they seek. While only 15 percent of organizations surveyed currently use Chat GPT, almost a third say it will change the type of skills they currently seek; 32 percent say it could impact the skills they seek in a year from now. Respondents indicated there could be a stronger focus on “soft skills” like problem-solving, communication, and decision-making.

“Successful organizations will invest in training their teams on generative AI and other rapidly evolving technologies, proving the power of upskilling to mitigate employee turnover,” said David Turetsky, vice president of compensation consulting at Salary.com. “With a persistently tight labor market and a willingness among employees to simply move on from jobs that don’t pay well and aren’t fulfilling, upskilling represents a critical path forward for employers.”

Top 5 in-demand skills

When it comes to the skills employers are seeking, effective communication rose to the top of 20 total choices. It’s interesting to note that all of the top five skills are needed to progress in any organization and certainly to successfully leverage AI technology.

  1. 65 percent: effective communication
  2. 55 percent: problem solving
  3. 47 percent: critical thinking
  4. 43 percent: attention to detail
  5. 41 percent: analytical thinking

Top ways organizations are addressing the skills gap
Two-thirds of organizations are investing in learning & development initiatives designed to reskill/upskill their employees, a wise investment during a labor shortage. Other top approaches include recruiting outside the organization with skills-based hiring, which also requires reworking job descriptions and hiring requirements.

While only a quarter of survey respondents have a skills and competency framework, more than half of respondents believe a skills and competency framework decreases bias in job definitions.

In terms of compensation, the most popular practice currently is using a combination of skills-based and variable-based compensation. Less than 20 percent use a skills-based approach and 23 percent have no plans to adopt a skills-based approach to compensation.

Leveraging technology and data to combat the skills gap

“We strongly advise that organizations start with conducting a skills inventory. HR teams may be pleasantly surprised that they have critical skills they’re seeking in-house,” said Turetsky. “Our survey found that HR pros regard conducting a skills inventory and creating career pathways as their top challenges. Fortunately, software and data can play a key role in operationalizing the process.”