Is the skills gap preventing you from getting hired?

skills gap survey

More than two thirds of employers who said they were increasing their number of employees in Q1 currently have open positions for which they can’t find qualified candidates.

Even in a time of seemingly low unemployment, companies contend that they cannot find the employees they need. According to a new CareerBuilder survey, nearly 60 percent of U.S. employers (56 percent) have job openings that stay vacant for 12 weeks or longer. This signals a persistent problem in America's economy: the skills gap.

In the past, the skills gap has consistently been in the areas of health care, information technology and engineering — the skills that were required to fill many of the jobs emerging first during the financial recovery. But new CareerBuilder data shows that there is also a shortage of candidates in a number of other professions:

Occupation

2016 Average Monthly Hires

Avg. Unique Job Postings (Jan 2016 - Dec 2016)

Internists, General

1,588

49,466

Heavy and Tractor-Trailer Truck Drivers

106,780

1,495,132

Marketing Managers

8,628

80,498

Information Security Analysts

3,929

32,103

Web Developers

6,955

46,950

Industrial Engineers

8,156

48,749

Demonstrators and Product Promoters

6,375

31,221

Sales Managers

17,745

65,161

Human Resources Managers

6,183

22,040

Financial Managers

23,180

53,775

How do you stay competitive in your field?

Although the gap is a challenge for the broader economy, it's an opportunity for talented and motivated job seekers and professionals to increase their career opportunities. Getting trained in fields that are experiencing a talent shortage will give you an extra advantage and allow you to be competitive in the job market again. But this doesn't come without extra effort on your part — effort you might not be able to put in. According to CareerBuilder research, 1 in 5 workers (20 percent) say their professional skills are not up to date. Fifty-seven percent of workers reported that they want to learn a new skillset to land a better-paying, more fulfilling job, but half of them said they can't afford to do so.

Here are a few ways to tackle training in an easier, cost-effective way, to make yourself the right candidate for those jobs that are staying vacant:

Don't think in degrees: It can be difficult for people with many years of experience to return to school, either undergraduate or graduate. However, a degree isn't the only way to get the proper education and training needed to improve the skills gap. Several universities and community colleges offer continuing education programs that are aimed at those simply looking to advance their existing career with courses that will tighten their skills, as well as people who want to earn an undergraduate or graduate degree later in life.

Look to industry partners: Last year Capella Learning Solutions and CareerBuilder launched an initiative called RightSkill, which enables workers to upskill and reskill for in-demand jobs within 60 days or less. The program, which is currently free for candidates, teaches competencies online based on real-time data and guidance from employers. Other options include:

  • Innovate+Educate is an industry-led nonprofit implementing research-based strategies to close the national skills gap and bridge the opportunity divide.
  • icStars: This workforce development organization identifies, trains and jump-starts technology careers for low-income adults who, although lacking access to education and employment, demonstrate extraordinary potential or success in the business world.
  • Upwardly Global: is a non-profit that helps work-authorized, skilled immigrants rebuild their professional careers in the U.S.

Be open to change: You may have been trained for one career, but with a skills gap in certain industries, now is the time to consider making a change. To meet these qualifications without racking up expensive tuition bills, look for certification programs to make you a qualified candidate.

Tweet at @CareerBuilder: What are you doing to keep your skills relevant?