Money & Business

Staff Up: Association’s New Skills Gap Index Tracks Job Trends

By / Oct 21, 2014 (iStock/Thinkstock)

To shine a light on the country’s skills gap, the American Staffing Association released a new index that quantifies the hardest-to-fill occupations. With this tool, ASA hopes staffing firms can better develop skills training in those fields.

The American Staffing Association is tackling the U.S. skills gap. Last week, ASA introduced a new tool to track America’s hardest-to-fill occupations, in an effort to identify the skills needed to fill those jobs.

“We developed the tool as part of a larger initiative to try and find ways to gather and provide information on the skills gap to assist our members,” said ASA Director of Research, Cynthia Poole.  “It’s a first step in identifying where some of the hard-to-fill positions are and then helping staffing firms along with their clients come up with solutions very specific to that organization to fill those gaps.”

The Skills Gap Index uses a hiring indicator tool from ASA corporate partner CareerBuilder to measure the level of difficulty to hire for certain positions based on demand, candidate supply, and the total population working in that occupation.

For example, the index, which will be updated quarterly, recently identified 207 hard-to-fill occupations, with the top-five being

  1. occupational therapists
  2. physical therapists
  3. truck drivers (heavy and tractor-trailer)
  4. occupational therapist assistants
  5. speech-language pathologists.

In addition to a quarterly release of the top-10 hardest positions to fill, ASA will also provide additional members-only insights, including a full detailed report that breaks down the occupations by region and staffing-industry sector.

“Now that we have a way for [members] to identify the hardest-to-fill positions, we have a little more base information to help them educate clients when they’re having conversations on the skills gap overall,” said Poole, who added that the tool can also help staffing firms evaluate their training programs.

Data from the index is also intended for use by economists, journalists, and government officials.

“There’s a lot of buzz out there right now about the skills gap,” Poole said. “People are trying to pin down what can be done about it, and while [the index] is not the end-all-be-all, it’s part of a larger initiative where we said ‘OK, what are the more difficult-to-fill positions?’ After that people can focus on what types of training might need to occur to help fill those gaps and those positions. But we needed to know what they are first in order to draw up a strategy.”

Katie Bascuas

Katie Bascuas is associate editor of Associations Now. More »

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