Ninety two percent of senior executives in the U.S. acknowledge there is a serious gap in workforce skills, according to a recent “State of the Economy and Employment” survey.

What is surprising in the data is that forty four percent of respondents cited soft skills — such as communication, critical thinking, creativity and collaboration — as the area with the biggest gap. Twenty two percent cited a lack of technical skills as the reason for the U.S. skills gap.

Interestingly, when commenting on the gap in computer skills, Generation X executives, more than any other generation surveyed, believe this is the skill that most seriously affects the U.S. workforce.

Sixty four percent of senior executives surveyed who believe that the skills gap is the greatest threat to U.S. businesses said investing in companies abroad instead of staying in U.S. is damaging U.S. businesses. Thirty four percent believe the U.S. gap in skills poses a threat to businesses research and development capabilities.

The survey found that the U.S education system needs to do a much better job preparing future generation of workers. More than half (59 percent) of executives surveyed do not believe colleges and universities in the U.S. offer education that adequately prepares their students for today’s workforce.

Eighty nine percent believe corporate apprenticeships or training programs could help alleviate the problem but forty two percent of those said the greatest barrier to creating in-house training programs is the cost.

Manufacturing is the hardest hit by the skills gap in the U.S. at thirty percent followed by technology at twenty one percent and professional and business services at nineteen percent.

Surprisingly, as disturbing as the need is for skilled workers in the U.S., senior executives did not feel the skills gap poses a direct threat to the U.S. economy. Only thirteen percent found it to be a major problem for the country. Instead, federal spending at twenty four percent, global competition at twenty two percent and high unemployment at twenty percent were listed as the greatest threats to the U.S. economy.

Is your organization doing enough to strengthen our education system?

Adapted from an article by Adecco Staffing US.