Saturday, August 24, 2019

Skill Gaps In Health Sector

There is a lot of talk these days about a skills gap, but in fact, there is no evidence that a disconnect between employers and job seekers is growing in the economy overall. Unfortunately for healthcare though, such a gap appears to exist in that sector. Indeed data show that healthcare job seekers are less well-matched with opportunities in the field than job seekers.


A critical skill is one that, if not present, results in a task not being completed satisfactorily, if at all and the lack of a critical skill causes problems, but the possession of it allows work to continue.

The skills gap is threatening the country’s sustained economic growth and limiting opportunities for struggling workers. This is not the only challenge we face. Inadequate aggregate demand is the primary driver of unemployment and trends such as declining wages for entry-level jobs contribute to income inequality. We need solutions that address all these issues.

While millions of people are looking for jobs, employers report that they are struggling to find skilled workers. As a country, we need to address the question of whether we can afford… to write off nearly half of our younger-adult population as not having the skills needed to effectively engage as full and active participants in their own future and that of our nation.

Around the world, employers, educators, policymakers, training organizations, and others have recognized the critical importance of tackling the skills gap. Helping people develop the skills they need to compete for today’s jobs can transform lives and strengthen economies.

While we clearly foresee skill gap being a major contributor in hampering the efficiency of overall system, we need to think on the following proposed solutions to reduce the size of the problem immediately.

Whats going on?

The healthcare gap is particularly hard to close because of the specific skills and certifications required to become a healthcare professional. You can’t become a nurse overnight. Years of preparation are required before someone can be hired. This contrasts with tech, for example, which has few licensing requirements and a lower mismatch between employers and job seekers than either healthcare or the overall economy.

Of course, every sector has some segments where it’s easy to find workers and others where employers struggle. For healthcare, roles like nursing assistant, medical assistant, and dental assistant have more job seekers than job postings. But employers have a hard time filling positions that require years of training, such as many kinds of nurses, physical and occupational therapists, and speech-language pathologists.


As noted above, healthcare employers must scramble more than their counterparts in other sectors to find workers, in part because of strict licensing requirements. Healthcare occupations have the highest percentage of licensed workers, according to 2015 BLS data. For example, registered nurses must be licensed and get specialized training for sub fields. Licensed practical nurses are required to complete an approved educational program and pass a national exam. And, to practice, speech-language pathologists typically need at least a master’s degree and, in most states, a license.

Of course, no one is advocating that regulations designed to protect patients be lifted in order to make it easier to find healthcare workers. These requirements underscore the importance of these jobs, and how vital it is to have skilled, knowledgeable professionals practicing in the field. Nonetheless, healthcare mismatch may have a greater impact on the economy as the sector grows. Employers need to find ways to close the gap, such as by investing more in training. Healthcare is not merely a large and growing part of our economy. It plays a unique role in society, one that will only become more critical as the population ages. Despite the challenges facing the healthcare labor market, it is essential that we do a better job of getting the right people in the right healthcare roles.


To quantify mismatch, we looked at resumes to compare job titles of job seekers from their current or most recent employment with the titles of Indeed job postings. The data is organized as monthly counts of job postings and resumes mapped to one of 6060 normalized titles. Employers use tens of thousands of job title variations to describe roles, so we normalize them by grouping together titles with slight variations. For example, the normalized title “licensed practical nurse” groups variations of that title plus the acronym LPN. We did not include resumes or job postings if the job title did not map to a normalized title. The healthcare sector is defined as a subset based on 562 normalized titles that can clearly be classified as healthcare. Both mismatch and jobs mix change are measured using a standard dissimilarity index. For further details, see our previous posts on tech mismatch from February of 2018, on overall mismatch from September of 2018, and the associated methodology materials.

Disclaimer: Following article sources are Hiring Lab & Economic Times.


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