Study Reveals Employers' Concerns About the Growing Skills Gap
Nearly three-in-five have seen negative effects due to vacancies
PR Newswire

TORONTO, June 25, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- More than half (56 per cent) of employers say they are concerned about the growing skills gap, and 46 per cent believe there is a significant gap between the skills their organization needs and the skills job candidates have, according to survey. Thirty-seven per cent say they currently have open positions for which they cannot find qualified candidates, up from 25 per cent last year.

The national survey was conducted online in November through December of 2013 by Harris Poll on behalf of and included a representative sample of 406 private sector hiring managers across industries and company sizes.

While a quarter (24 per cent) say vacancies typically go unfilled due to lack of qualified candidates for less than a month, 38 per cent of employers say they've had vacancies last 3 months or longer, and 11 per cent have had them stretch on for at least 6 months while they searched for qualified candidates.

Long-lasting vacancies can have very real consequences. More employers are experiencing these effects, with 58 per cent of employers saying they've seen a negative impact on their business due to extended job vacancies, up from 41 per cent last year. Some of the most commonly cited consequences include:

  • Productivity loss – 30 per cent
  • Lower morale – 24 per cent
  • Revenue loss – 15 per cent
  • Lower quality work – 15 per cent
  • Inability to grow business – 13 per cent
  • More employee turnover – 13 per cent

"Between the pressures from extended vacancies, measuring up to skilled candidates' salary expectations and increases in spending on training, more employers are feeling the financial costs of the skills gap," said Mark Bania, Director of CareerBuilder Canada. "New technologies, globalization and other factors are fundamentally changing businesses and the industries they operate in. There is a greater urgency for companies to reskill existing employees, offer comprehensive training for new recruits, and work with educators to prepare the next wave of workers for their evolving needs."


One way some employers overcome the skills gap is by increasing compensation in order to attract skilled talent. More than half (57 per cent) of employers say they've had a job candidate turn down an offer in the last year, with 20 per cent saying they couldn't meet the candidate's salary demands. A third (33 per cent) of employers are planning to raise starting salaries for high-skill positions this year.


On-the-job training is another way employers can combat the growing skills gap. Fifty-nine per cent of employers say they trained workers who didn't have experience in their particular industry and hired them in 2013. Fifty-five per cent are planning on doing so this year.

Training budgets have increased overall in the past year, with 61 per cent of employers spending more than $50,000 on training, compared to 49 per cent last year. Nearly half of employers (48 per cent) spend more than $100,000 a year on training, up from 37 per cent last year.

Starting Early

Many employers have also begun reaching out to young future job seekers to help prepare them for entry into the workforce. A third (31 percent) of employers say they've promoted careers at their organization to high school students, and 7 per cent have reached out to grammar school students.

Survey Methodology

This survey was conducted online within Canada by Harris Poll on behalf of among 406 Canadian hiring managers  (employed full-time; not self-employed; non-government) ages 18 and over between November 6 and December 2, 2013 (percentages for some questions are based on a subset, based on their responses to certain questions). With a pure probability sample of 406 one could say with a 95 percent probability that the overall results have a sampling error of +/- 4.86 percentage points. Sampling error for data from sub-samples is higher and varies.

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