Skills Gap Creates Recruiting Challenge for California Employers, SHRM Poll Shows

Apr 18, 2013

Skills Gap Creates Recruiting Challenge for California Employers, SHRM Poll Shows
State HR professionals point to deficiencies in critical thinking, creativity and some basic skills

SACRAMENTO, Calif., April 18, 2013 — About two-thirds of organizations in California that are hiring report having difficulty recruiting, and one-half of those said job candidates don’t have the right skills for the job, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) said in a poll released today.

SHRM’s poll on the California job market, The Ongoing Impact of the Recession — Recruiting Challenges and Skill Gaps, is being released today at the CalSHRM State Legislative Conference in Sacramento. SHRM also released other California-specific research today: Hiring, The Impact of Strategic Technological Changes, and Organizations’ Financial Health.

“Following the recession, organizations are experiencing recruiting difficulty because almost half of the jobs to be filled are either completely new positions or jobs with newly added duties that place a greater emphasis on applied skills,” said Alexander Alonso, vice president for research at SHRM.

Alonso and Mark Schmit, executive director of the SHRM Foundation, will share the results of the survey at “Skill Shortages in California,” a CalSHRM conference session at 4:15 p.m. PDT today at the Sheraton Grand Sacramento Hotel. They will be available at a 1 p.m. PDT press briefing today in the Beavis Room of the Sheraton. The briefing also is available by phone.

The poll showed that high-skilled jobs — nurses, doctors, engineers, programmers and scientists — are the most difficult to fill in the state and will continue to be in the foreseeable future. In addition, the exit of Baby Boomers from the workforce and a smaller Generation X workforce poised to replace them could make recruiting overall even more challenging in the years ahead.

Critical thinking was ranked as the most problematic gap among applied skills (57 percent of respondents reported the gap), followed by professionalism/work ethic (49 percent), written communications (46 percent) and leadership (41 percent). HR professionals in the state were more likely to report gaps in creativity skills than those in the rest of the country (28 percent of respondents vs. 21 percent). SHRM attributed this difference to the types of industries in California.

As for basic skills, California HR professionals were more likely than those in the rest of the country to report gaps in written English (62 percent of respondents vs. 55 percent) and spoken English (40 percent vs. 29 percent), the poll showed.

“Many companies are now trying to identify ways to solve the skills gap,” Schmit said. “Creative ideas are being tested with encouraging results; however, we still have a long way to go and more coordinated efforts are required.”

The poll identified one area of opportunity for employers: military veterans. Organizations in the United States overall (58 percent of respondents) were more likely to have hired veterans for jobs that have been difficult to fill than those in California (47 percent), it said.

Because of their unique labor challenges, California employers may turn to greater collaboration with local schools and colleges. Working more closely with education and training providers may help California organizations address skill and knowledge gaps and create a more qualified local talent pool, SHRM reported.

The survey of more than 490 randomly selected SHRM members in California and 3,400 across the United States was conducted in August and September of 2012. It has a margin of error of 4 percent.

For more information, visit the SHRM Research webpage:

The research reports are available at:


Media: To attend the conference session on the skills gap or to connect to the press briefing, contact Kate Kennedy of SHRM Media Relations at, 703-535-6260 or 703-862-5192.

About the Society for Human Resource Management
The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) is the world’s largest association devoted to human resource management. Representing about 260,000 members in more than 140 countries, the Society serves the needs of HR professionals and advances the interests of the HR profession. Founded in 1948, SHRM has more than 575 affiliated chapters within the United States and subsidiary offices in China and India. Visit SHRM Online at
and follow us on Twitter @SHRMPress and @SHRM_Research.


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