New Study Reveals Skills Gap Grew By Double Digits Since Last Year

The annual report by Wiley Education Services and Future Workplace shows companies are still struggling to adjust to the future of work

HOBOKEN, N.J.--()--Wiley Education Services, a division of Wiley (NYSE: JWA) (NYSE: JWB) that provides tailored services and technology solutions for university and enterprise partners, and Future Workplace, an HR advisory and research firm preparing leaders for disruptions in recruiting, development and employee engagement, today announced the results of a survey of human resource leaders showing the skills gap grew by 12 percent since last year.

The finding comes from the second annual report, “Closing the Skills Gap 2019,” which was released today. According to the study, 64 percent of the 600 HR leaders surveyed said there is a skills gap in their company, up from 52 percent in the 2018 report. This year, 44 percent of HR leaders reported it was more difficult to fill their skills gap than it was last year, and 42 percent said the skills gap was making their company less efficient.

“The skills gap is growing, becoming a larger and more serious drag on business efficiency,” said Jeremy Walsh, VP of Enterprise Learning Solutions at Wiley Education Services. “Our research shows that, for the second year in a row, companies are grasping for solutions to improve their ability to find basic talent needs and one thing that is becoming very clear, companies that are willing to build talent versus simply buying talent will be the winners over the next few years."

Other significant findings of the report include:

  • Pace of change is driving gap growth. Increasing changes in technology and required matching skills was the most often-cited cause of the skills gap (37%), followed by the lack of skilled talent capable of moving into positions with more responsibilities (31%) and lack of qualified candidates (30%).
  • HR leaders increasingly say needed skills are temporary. A significant share of employers (40%) estimate that a skill is usable for four years or less. Fast-paced obsolescence escalates the need for employers to hire or upskill workers when gaps form.
  • A college degree isn’t the only pathway. While 68 percent of employers say a degree is used to validate hard skills, nearly all (90%) employers said they would hire a candidate that doesn’t have a 4-year college degree.
  • Tuition reimbursement is popular. Over half (52%) of employers said that they use a tuition reimbursement program for upskilling and a significant majority (88%) cover at least some of the cost of upskilling for employees.
  • Companies say they need to invest in workforce skills, but many don’t. Although 68 percent of HR leaders say their company very often or always communicates the value of upskilling, less than half of companies (48%) spend more than $500 per year per employee on upskilling or continuing education.
  • Employers are working more with schools. Nearly two-thirds of employers (64%) say their organization has collaborated with schools to make curriculum more responsive to workforce needs in the past three years, an increase of 14 percentage points since 2018.
  • Hiring practices vary with respect to offering jobs to candidates with certain demographic factors. More than six in ten (61%) employers often offer jobs to military veterans, nearly two-thirds of employers have hired people considered retired or unemployed, nearly half (46%) often offer roles to non-Americans.
  • Employers increasingly prioritize solutions such as AI and outsourcing over upskilling. Forty percent say they prefer to invest in AI than upskilling, an increase of 11 percent over last year. And nearly half (47%) prefer to hire gig workers instead of full-time employees, a jump of nine percent over 2018.

“Now is the time for companies to take concrete steps to address this issue before it further impacts business outcomes,” said Jeanne Meister, Founding Partner, Future Workplace. “Companies should not choose between investing in artificial intelligence or upskilling employees, they need to do both! No industry will be immune to the shortage of skilled labor needed to remain competitive today.”

“The skills gap continues to get wider with more than seven million unfilled jobs in America. Companies can’t find the right talent, with the right skills at the right time and it’s preventing them from growth,” said Dan Schawbel, Research Director at Future Workplace. “As a result, this study concludes that while they might have had a singular focus on a specific type of candidate in the past, that’s changed out of necessity. They are open to hiring candidates, such as retirees and veterans, because it expands their talent pool.”

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About Future Workplace

Future Workplace is a HR Advisory and Research firm preparing leaders for what’s next in the future workforce and workplace. Future Workplace works with heads of talent acquisition, talent management, human resources, corporate learning, and diversity to prepare them for the disruptions impacting recruitment, employee development, and engagement. Future Workplace is host of the Future Workplace Network, an Executive Council that includes heads of Human Resources, Corporate Learning, and Talent Management, who come together to discuss, debate and share “next” practices impacting the workplace and workforce of the future. For more information, please visit:

About Wiley Education Services

Wiley Education Services, a division of Wiley, is a leading, global provider of technology-enabled education solutions to meet the evolving needs of universities, corporations and ultimately, learners. We partner with more than 60 institutions across the U.S., Europe and Australia, and support over 800 degree programs. Our best-in-class services and market insights are driven by our deep commitment and expertise—proven to elevate enrollment, retention and completion rates. For more information visit

About Wiley

Wiley drives the world forward with research and education. Through publishing, platforms and services, we help students, researchers, universities, and corporations to achieve their goals in an ever-changing world. For more than 200 years, we have delivered consistent performance to all of our stakeholders. The Company's website can be accessed at


Jeanne Meister and Dan Schawbel

Lauren Andrich


Jeanne Meister and Dan Schawbel

Lauren Andrich