The first part of this series, The Skills Gap and the State of the Economy, introduced a startling gulf between the skills the current American workforce has and the skills it needs to remain competitive. What this gap means for American business, however, is the real story.
While 92% of the 500 executives that we polled believe a skills gap exists, only 13% reportedly believe that the gap is a major threat to the U.S. economy. The reason for such a disparity may be the simple fact that the skills gap hasn’t negatively impacted most businesses — yet.
A 2012 report by McKinsey & Company features alarming predictions for the future of the labor market: by 2020, there will be 40 million fewer workers worldwide with the education and skills that employers need. Meanwhile, the surplus of unskilled or low-skill workers will surge to almost 95 million.
This is a dire prediction indeed. The manufacturing sector is likely to be hit the hardest by this gap, a finding supported by our survey results. 30% of those surveyed believed that the existing gap affects manufacturing the most, with technology (21%) and professional and business services (19%) close behind.
Even though a relatively small number of those polled believe the gap to be an imminent threat to the U.S. economy, three other statistics from our survey provide a glimpse of what the future might look like if the gap goes unaddressed.
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