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Despite growing demand for full-time workers, employers are finding it challenging to secure candidates that possess the skills that their open positions require, according to a new study from CareerBuilder.

Technology used across fields and industries is changing faster than universities or traditional classroom-based training programs can prepare learners, not only forming skills gaps at organizations, but also forcing recruiters to hire candidates that aren't fully qualified for the roles they're brought in to fill. According to CareerBuilder, 59 percent of employers plan to train and hire workers who may not be 100 percent qualified but have potential.

How can employers close this skills gap for existing workers and new hires? CareerBuilder has identified some ongoing learning and training trends that are helping organizations take the skills challenge into their own hands—here's how to apply them at your organization:

1) Dedicate More Resources to Tech-Based Training

Employers are willing to allocate bigger budgets to new learning technologies, which marks a key shift in how companies view learning, according to CareerBuilder. It's no longer seen as a pesky cost—it's now considered an investment in the growth and development of workers, which ultimately contribute to the health of the company.

“While a skills gap has created an environment where employers are having trouble finding qualified talent, employees' and companies' mutual dedication towards competency-based training indicates we have made leaps and bounds toward eliminating these obstacles," CEO of CareerBuilder Irina Novoselsky, said in survey results.

Technology-specific training is currently one of the biggest focus areas for organizations, according to CareerBuilder, since 55 percent of employers believe that an average of 50 percent or more of all jobs involve tech requirements.

To respond to this growing need, companies are updating their internal learning content to include more technology-specific material, even investing in outside training if needed, especially for roles that require field training and specific software/equipment. More than half of employers have paid for employees to pursue skills-based training offsite.

2) Seek and Nurture Soft Skills

As technology automates certain relatively simple and mundane tasks at work, skills unique to humans—soft skills—are increasingly critical. CareerBuilder found that 92 percent of employers look for soft skills such as critical thinking, interpersonal skills and communication abilities in all candidates today. Eighty percent also reported that soft skills would be equally or more important than hard skills (i.e. knowledge of specific technology) when hiring employees.

And while "soft skills" often sounds somewhat vague on a job description, employers in the CareerBuilder survey said that they have concrete requirements. Though critical thinking, interpersonal skills and communication abilities are indeed the broader soft skills employers are seeking, the specific top skills that employers are hiring for this year are the ability to be team-oriented (51%), give attention to detail (49%) and thoughtfully provide customer service (46%).

One way to nurture these in candidates that show potential? Lead by example. By exhibiting these skills, managers and HR leaders can train new hires and even long-time employees to practice them as well.

3) Provide Learning Opportunities Outside of Work Hours

Time is often listed as the key obstacle standing between employees and learning, but CareerBuilder found that workers are willing to learn even when they're not on the clock. This is a missed opportunity for employers.

According to the survey, 66 percent of employees report that their company doesn't provide learning opportunities or workshops outside of work. However, 73 percent of employees said they would be extremely or somewhat likely to partake in these opportunities if they were being offered. Workshops on newly-adopted technology, industry conferences or even public speaking courses are among the kinds of learning employees seek, according to CareerBuilder.

In 2019 and beyond, employers will have to continue to focus—and sometimes reimagine—the best ways to deliver training to their workforce. Candidates, meanwhile, will have to brace themselves for the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead and continue to prioritize learning as the means to career growth and success.

Photo: Creative Commons