A Workplace Conversation: Closing the Skills Gap

SHRM CEO launches national conversation

September 13, 2018

​The skills gap is real. That's why two top human resources leaders have launched a national conversation about closing the gap.

Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., President and CEO of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and Kevin Walling, Chief Human Resource Officer of The Hershey Company got together recently for a conversation about the skills gap – a critical issue affecting employees and employers every day.

"The economy is hot, unemployment is low, and the skills gap is wide," Taylor said.

As Taylor leads SHRM's efforts to elevate conversations about pressing workplace issues, he is encouraging all employers to join in the conversation.

SHRM research indicates that eight out of 10 HR professional report that high-demand and soft skills are in short supply.

Our research also indicates:

  • The health and social assistance and manufacturing industries report the highest levels of recruiting difficulty. For instance, 46 percent of respondents indicated that the most-difficult-to-recruit-for positions are in the high-skilled medical job categories.
  • Smaller organizations (those with 1 to 99 employees) reported having the most difficulty in filling full-time manager and skilled trade positions.

Because a high-quality workforce is the most important determinant of business success, challenges related to hiring the best people have a direct influence on an organization's competitiveness today and in the future.

"We have an aging demographic. We have a skill shortage that is not in tune with the current needs of a digital industry. Without taking proactive action in how we're developing the next generation of the workforce, we will be at risk," Walling said.

Key Conversation Points:

  • HR needs to be proactive in developing the next generation of workforce.
  • Solutions should focus on employee training, better alignment between education and employers and tapping non-traditional talent pools, including veterans, people with disabilities, people with criminal backgrounds, and others under-represented in the workforce
  • Employers, policy makers and educators play a role in closing the skills gap.

Taylor is available for interviews about how why a national conversation about closing the skills gaps is needed and how others can join in the conversation. #WeAreWork

Media: Contact Sundra Hominik, SHRM Media Affairs, to request interviews. Sundra.Hominik@shrm.org and (703) 535-6273. 

For additional information about the skills gap, read SHRM's The New Talent Landscape: Recruiting Difficulty and Skills Shortages

Resources about tapping into nontraditional talent pools:

SHRM-Koch Institute Research Identifies Value of Considering People with Criminal Records for Employment


It's Time for HR to Lead a Conversation on Hiring People with Criminal Background


Integrating and Engaging Veterans in the Workforce


Recruiting and Retaining People with Disabilities





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