Time is Running Out to Close the Widening Skills Gap, Reveals New Research from TrueBlue’s PeopleScout in Partnership with Spotted Zebra

January 23, 2024

Study reveals 90 percent of HR leaders believe that half of their workforce will need to be reskilled in the next five years

CHICAGO – January 23, 2024 – TrueBlue (NYSE: TBI), a leading provider of specialized workforce solutions, today announced the results of a comprehensive study from leading recruitment process outsourcing provider PeopleScout, a TrueBlue company, and Spotted Zebra, an award-winning HR tech company. The study’s findings demonstrate the surprising conclusion that nine out of 10 HR leaders believe that up to 50 percent of their workforce will need to be reskilled in the next five years, with only seven percent reporting an active investment in their reskilling programs.

Global Labor Trends & the Skills Countdown

The pivotal research report, The Skills Crisis Countdown, offers an unprecedented look into the evolving workforce skills landscape and the growing disconnect between employee capabilities and business needs that highlights the importance of adopting a skills-based talent acquisition and management strategy. An estimated 85 million jobs could go unfilled by 2030 that will cost $8.5 trillion in lost revenue, according to The World Economic Forum. The report indicates talent shortages are the most widespread across industries including education, hospitality, healthcare, technology, and manufacturing. Approximately 80 percent of organizations reported their top workforce challenge is recruiting skilled talent, followed by retaining key personnel and upskilling current employees.

Employers are Ill-Prepared for the Future

Global trends like automation, AI adoption, the green economy and workforce demographic shifts are rapidly changing the skills needed for jobs, making skills gaps and shortages more acute. Despite this essential need for skills alignment, companies continue to prioritize degrees and experience over skills when making hiring decisions. This may be rooted in an overall unfamiliarity with skills-based talent strategies, as one in two HR leaders admitted to lacking an understanding of skills-based practices that would support these workforce strategies.

“As a trusted talent advisor to a vast portfolio of clients across almost all industries, we are seeing that the widening skills gap is one of the top challenges facing organizations today,” said Rick Betori, President of PeopleScout & EVP of TrueBlue. “This new research is a critical step in understanding the current disconnect between the demands of the future workforce and traditional hiring practices, ultimately emphasizing why skills-based talent strategies are now mission critical for an organization’s long-term success.”

Technology Accelerates the Skills Conversation

Technology adoption is accelerating the need to evolve skills, with 50 percent of HR leaders anticipating that job roles at their organizations will transform due to shifts in required skill sets. However, the report reveals another disparity regarding perceived importance of technology skills. Despite skyrocketing demand, both employers and employees undervalue skills in technology, ranking it second to last when asked which skills are most important for the future. Furthermore, 34 percent of employers lack any plans for workforce adoption of automation and AI.

“In just a few short months, GAI went from an abstract concept to a tangible force with dramatic impacts worldwide. Skills profiles across industries have already changed dramatically and will continue to evolve rapidly,” said Simon Wright, Global Head of Talent Advisory Consulting of PeopleScout. “This research reveals that many HR leaders are not ready for this transformation. Closing the widening skills gap will require better alignment on the importance of tech literacy.”

Becoming a Skills-Based Organization

“Skills-based talent strategies are essential, and the clock is ticking for employers across all regions and industries,” said Nick Shaw, Founder & Chief Customer Officer of Spotted Zebra. “Without future-focused skills strategies for both hiring and development, organizations will suffer lost revenue and productivity when critical jobs are left unfilled.”

Shaw and Wright will present the research findings in a webinar on Thursday, February 1, 2024, at 11 am CST. Register for the webinar here.

The PeopleScout report combined data from more than 2,000 employees surveyed across Asia-Pacific, Europe and North America and insights from a statistically significant number of senior Human Resources and Talent Acquisition leaders from organizations around the world, across sectors and sizes.

Download the full report here for more survey findings and actionable insights for employers.

About TrueBlue

TrueBlue (NYSE: TBI) is a leading provider of specialized workforce solutions that help clients achieve business growth and improve productivity. In 2022, TrueBlue served 84,000 clients and connected approximately 611,000 people to work. Its PeopleReady segment offers on-demand, industrial staffing; PeopleManagement offers contingent, on-site industrial staffing and commercial driver services; and PeopleScout offers recruitment process outsourcing (RPO) and managed service provider (MSP) solutions to a wide variety of industries. Learn more at trueblue.com.

About PeopleScout

PeopleScout, a TrueBlue (NYSE: TBI) company, is a leading RPO provider managing talent solutions that span the global economy, with end-to-end MSP and talent advisory capabilities supporting total workforce needs. PeopleScout boasts over 90% client retention managing the most complex programs in the industry. The company’s forward-looking talent professionals provide clients with the edge in the people business by consistently delivering now while anticipating what’s next. Affinix™, PeopleScout’s proprietary talent acquisition platform, empowers faster engagement with the best talent through an AI-driven, consumer-like candidate experience and optimizes the talent process through data and actionable insights. Leveraging the power of data gleaned from engaging millions of candidates and contingent associates every year, PeopleScout has served clients in more than 70 countries with headquarters in Chicago, Sydney and London and global delivery centers in Toronto, Montreal, Bristol, Krakow, Gurgaon and Bangalore. For more information, please visit www.peoplescout.com.

About Spotted Zebra

Spotted Zebra empowers organizations to make skills-based decisions throughout the entire talent lifecycle—from hiring to reskilling to succession planning. Its skills-based workforce management platform features three applications—the award-winning Hiring application for skills-based recruitment; the Mobility application for reskilling; and the Development application for succession planning. Spotted Zebra was founded in 2020 by repeat founder and internet entrepreneur Ian Monk and qualified occupational psychologist and former MD of SHL Nick Shaw. Find out more at spottedzebra.co.uk.

Press Contact

Taylor Winchell
Senior Manager, External Communications