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More Than Half of Small Business Owners Can't Find Job Candidates with the Right Skills


Findings from a new public opinion poll show that 56 percent of small employers have difficulty finding candidates with the right kind of job experience and 54 percent say they struggle to identify candidates with the right education, skills or training. To address this issue, small business owners support measures to close the skills gap – the mismatch between the skills job candidates have and the skills employers require.

In an op-ed published on Huffington Post, Small Business Majority Founder and CEO John Arensmeyer wrote that “addressing the skills gap is vital to our economy, and small businesses are a big part of the solution. Small employers already support the steps needed to make a difference, such as apprenticeships, on-the-job training programs and more. But they want policymakers to create tax credits, grants or other incentives to help them instate these programs.”

Tim Corbett, president of Reliable Underground Service Technicians in Allendale, Mich. echoed Arensmeyer’s comments.  “We're working to improve the local workforce through partnerships with a university and a nonprofit, but our resources are limited,” Corbett said. “Broader action is needed to fix workforce issues, such as expanding opportunities for women to enter technical fields and offering incentives to small businesses that invest in training for their employees.”

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The poll, conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research with funding from Joyce, found that small businesses support a number of solutions to address this problem:

  • 55 percent of entrepreneurs say they are interested in employing and developing apprentices through a formal, structured training program
  • 61 percent support implementing a structured, on-the-job training program for employees
  • 57 percent of small business owners say they would work with an organization that coordinates with local schools, community colleges, businesses and community organizations to provide job training and placement
  • 51 percent of small business owners are interested in working with other businesses in their industry to develop programs to increase the number of qualified job applicants in their area
  • 62 percent of small employers say they would consider seeking out and hiring promising and trainable workers who may not yet have the required experience or certifications, but with an employer’s assistance, could obtain them within a specific timeframe

“As the most recent jobs report shows, unemployment numbers continue to decline as small business owners across the country increase their hiring in the midst of our slowly-growing economy,” Arensmeyer said. “By implementing programs to help identify, train and retain qualified candidates, we’ll create more opportunities for our workforce and help our entrepreneurs continue to grow the economy.”

Skill-building programs can empower students with the basic and technical skills needed for new, better-paying jobs that can transform their lives and support their families. The Joyce Foundation works to improve workforce development and education systems to help underprepared adults learn important skills, earn credentials and pursue jobs in their communities.

Hear from two companies that are working to close the skills gap.

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