The Skills Gap: Are Employers to Blame?

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showing gapProfessor Peter Cappelli out of the Wharton School of Business has posited that the problem of the skills gap between applicants and job requirements is strictly a problem created by businesses, not by a lack of skilled candidates. Cappelli says that the reason many companies are having trouble finding the talent that they need is that they have either “crazy” employment requirements, do not pay enough, or have a rigid applicant screening process that eliminates all candidates who don’t fit a stringent skills set model.

Cappelli argues that employers are targeting candidates who are performing the exact function that they need at some other company, however unlikely that may be. And since most of the requirements companies are seeking are only learned through real world experience, they eliminate candidates coming out of school and entering the workforce for the first time. This aversion to on-the-job training reaches back a number of decades. For example, in 1979, most young workers received two and a half weeks of training per year. But in 1991 that number fell dramatically with only 17 percent of young employees reporting that they had received any training during the previous year. In 2011, only 21 percent said that they have received training during the last five years.

Another unreasonable expectation Cappelli argues employers are making is that of workers to accept lower salaries due to the high level of candidates in the job market. He estimates that between 10 and 20 percent of companies are not offering enough pay. That same glut of candidates has also given employers the false security that their “perfect” candidate is out among the masses of applicants, directly leading to the presence of overly strict job requirements.

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Joshua Bjerke, from Savannah, Georgia, focuses on articles involving the labor force, economy, and HR topics including new technology and workplace news. Joshua has a B.A. in Political Science with a Minor in International Studies and is currently pursuing his M.A. in International Security.