ACT Issues Report on Measuring Workforce Skills Gaps

Report Contains Gap Definition, Gap Analysis for Four Industry Sectors and Recommendations

ACT released a research report designed to assist economic and workforce developers as they contend with the increasing mismatch, or skills gaps, between labor market supply and demand in America.

The report, “A Better Measure of Skills Gaps,” proposes a simple definition to describe the skills gap phenomenon and sets forth detailed and specific measures to analyze skills gaps in four major industry sectors. With this paper, ACT recommends a balanced approach for skills gap analysis that incorporates rigorous quantitative methods with an eye for practical application.

Three of the key findings described in the paper include:

  • Significant foundational skills gaps exist for United States workers and job seekers tested with WorkKeys® skills assessments, possessing both middle and high levels of education, for jobs that require a similar level of education.
  • For manufacturing, healthcare, construction and energy-related target occupations requiring a middle or high level of education, the majority of U.S. WorkKeys examinees are not able to demonstrate the required skill level for locating information. This skill involves the ability to locate, synthesize, and use information from workplace graphics such as charts, graphs, tables, forms, flowcharts, diagrams, floor plans, maps and instrument gauges.
  • Caution should be used in considering indirect measures of skills as a substitute for actual skill level. The results of ACT’s analysis imply that level of education does not necessarily relate to gaps in foundational on-the-job skills; in fact, it seems that the gap in foundational skills demanded by employers widens as the level of education increases.

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