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Press Release

May 1, 2018

New Study Uncovers Why U.S. Companies Can’t Close Their Skills Gap

Colleges aren’t preparing students for jobs and companies aren’t investing enough in training

NEW YORK and KENTUCKY, May 1, 2018 – The Learning House, Inc., a leader in workforce education and training, and Future Workplace, a research firm preparing leaders for disruptions in recruiting, development and employee engagement, announced today the results of a new study titled, “Closing the Skills Gap.” Of the 600 U.S. human resources leaders surveyed, nearly half said that colleges aren’t preparing students for the working world, and more than a third agree colleges are most responsible for getting an employee work ready. More than 40% of companies have not collaborated with colleges to make curriculum more responsive to workplace needs and, as a result, almost a third of colleges do not have a pipeline of talent with the right skills to fill employers’ current and future roles.

More than half of employers indicate there is a skills gap in their organizations, and more than a third believe that filling their open positions is harder than it was in 2017. In the past year, as many as 500 job openings have gone unfilled at 70% of the companies surveyed — nearly half of them attribute this to a lack of qualified candidates. Despite a recognized skills gap, 74% of companies are only investing $500 per employee on training and development between upskilling and reskilling.

Additional highlights from the report include:

Technology and IT skills are the most valued. Employers say the roles that are hardest to fill are in technology and IT (43%), and the most in-demand college major is computer information systems (63%). The hard skills that are most attractive currently are strategic thinking and analytical skills (59%), project management (47%) and computer skills (47%), whereas the most in-demand soft skills are teamwork (38%), the ability to adapt to change (37%) and leadership ability (37%).

Companies are betting on artificial intelligence (AI), outsourcing and hiring non-traditional candidates to close the skills gap. More than half of employers say the most significant obstacle to upskilling their employees is a lack of budget, and they are more open to hire candidates with a recognized certification (66%), complete certificate (66%), online degree from a MOOC (47%) or a digital badge (24%). Regarding artificial intelligence, 40% of employers believe AI will help fill the skills gap. Additionally, nearly half of employers plan to outsource to vendors instead of hiring or upskilling new employees and nearly all (90%) say they’re open to accepting non-traditional candidates that do not hold four-year college degrees.

Supporting quotes
“As a partner to both business and higher education institutions, Learning House is committed to facilitating opportunities for educating, reskilling and upskilling the existing and future workforce. We help organizations partner with educational institutions to strengthen their education offerings, develop their employees and create new, in-demand opportunities.”
– Todd Zipper, President and CEO, The Learning House, Inc.

“With more than 6 million unfilled jobs in America, the skills gap continues to stall business growth and innovation. Instead of investing more money in reskilling current employees to fill the gap, companies are betting on AI and outsourcing. We believe that training the workforce for current and future skills will be the most effective and efficient way to fill the skills gap.”
– Dan Schawbel, Research Director at Future Workplace, author of Back to Human

Research findings are based on a survey conducted by VIGA fielded across the US between March 22nd–27th, 2018. For this survey, 600 HR leaders were asked about their views regarding filling the skills gap. The study targeted HR Leaders who work across different sectors and in organizations of different sizes. Respondents are recruited through a number of different mechanisms, via different sources to join the panels and participate in market research surveys. All panelists have passed a double opt-in process and complete on average 300 profiling data points prior to taking part in surveys. Respondents are invited to take part via email and are provided with a small monetary incentive for doing so. Results of any sample are subject to sampling variation. The magnitude of the variation is measurable and is affected by the number of interviews and the level of the percentages expressing the results. In this particular study, the chances are 95 in 100 that a survey result does not vary, plus or minus, by more than 4% percentage points from the result that would be obtained if interviews had been conducted with all persons in the universe represented by the sample.


Dan Schawbel, Research Director at Future Workplace, dan@futureworkplace.com

Betty Cesarano, Senior Director of Marketing, bcesarano@learninghouse.com

About The Learning House, Inc.

The Learning House, Inc. helps people improve their lives through education. With a focus on partnerships between corporations and higher education institutions, Learning House provides solutions designed to meet employee learning objectives and technology-enabled education aimed at meeting the needs of a dynamic global market. Solutions include Online Program Management (OPM), Enterprise Learning Solutions, The Software Guild, Learning House International and Advancement Courses. With a focus on data-driven decision making, Learning House is on the leading edge of higher education. Learning House provides expertise in corporate training and education, employee development, research and analytics, and instructional design. Through its broad portfolio, Learning House delivers more students, more graduates and better outcomes. For more information, please visit https://www.learninghouse.com/.

About Future Workplace

Future Workplace is an executive development firm dedicated to rethinking and re-imagining the workplace. Future Workplace works with heads of talent management, human resources, corporate learning, and diversity to prepare for the changes impacting recruitment, employee development, and engagement. Future Workplace is host to the 2020 Workplace Network, an Executive Council that includes 50 plus heads of Corporate Learning, Talent, and Human Resources who come together to discuss debate and share “next” practices impacting the workplace and workforce of the future. For more information, please visit: http://www.futureworkplace.com/.

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