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‘Skills Gap’ Is Unfamiliar to Americans


Once Defined, Unknown Hits Home

Half of Americans (50%) have never heard of the “skills gap,” according to the results of the latest American Staffing Association Workforce Monitor® survey conducted online by Harris Poll. However, the unfamiliar becomes familiar when a definition of the term is offered.

When provided with “the term ‘skills gap’ refers to the perceived difference between the skills employers require from workers and the skills workers actually possess,” about three in 10 Americans (28%) say they know someone who has been affected by the skills gap, including one in 10 (14%) who have been affected personally, the survey found. And of those personally impacted by the skills gap, nine out of 10 (91%) report it has been in a negative manner, saying

  • Few job openings exist for the skills they possess (44%)
  • They don’t have the right skills for a desired job (34%)
  • They had to get additional training to keep or get a job (25%)

What is responsible for the skills gap? The rapidly changing workplace environment may be partially to blame. Three out of four Americans (76%) say technology outpacing workers’ knowledge is a factor at least moderately responsible for causing the skills gap, according to the ASA Workforce Monitor.

“The gap between workers’ skills and those needed by employers is a key reason for why millions of individuals are unemployed despite millions of open jobs” said Richard Wahlquist, ASA president and chief executive officer. “The upskilling and reskilling of American workers through traditional and work-based learning programs must become a top priority of educators, policymakers, and employers of all sizes and across all sectors.”

To learn more about the ASA Workforce Monitor, visit You can also follow ASA on Twitter.


Harris Poll conducted the survey online within the U.S. on behalf of ASA Aug. 10–14, 2017, among a total of 2,023 U.S. adults age 18 and older. Results were weighted on age, education, race/ethnicity, household income, and geographic region where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the U.S. population.


About the American Staffing Association (ASA)

The American Staffing Association is the voice of the U.S. staffing, recruiting, and workforce solutions industry. ASA and its state affiliates advance the interests of the industry across all sectors through advocacy, research, education, and the promotion of high standards of legal, ethical, and professional practices. For more information about ASA, visit

About the ASA Workforce Monitor

The ASA Workforce Monitor is a periodic survey commissioned by ASA and conducted online by Harris Poll among 1,000 or more U.S. adults age 18 and older. The survey series focuses on current workforce trends and issues. For more information about the survey series, visit

ASA Workforce MonitorNearly half of employed U.S. job seekers (49%) believe AI tools used in job recruiting are more biased than their human counterparts. View the results & download the infographics »
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