Bridging the Gap Between Tech and Soft Skills in the Workforce

Whatever level of skills are most critically needed across your own organization, you’ve undoubtedly heard about them as gaps – skills ranging from hard tech skills to soft people skills are needed across many of today’s workforce.

When programming, engineering or network security skills are needed, it’s often a matter of attracting and acquiring the right talent. When communication, leadership or collaboration skills are needed, professional development programs may be the answer.

But you may be faced with another gap to bridge between hard and soft skills. Employers today are seeking applied skills, the kind it takes to get things done in the modern, dynamic workplace.

In Search of Applied Skills

A 2016 Pew Research Center survey noted that employment growth is more rapid among jobs that require higher levels of analytical skills, such as critical thinking and computer skills. The survey found that 54% of workers believe it will be essential for them to get training and develop new job skills throughout their work life in order to keep up with changes in the workplace.”1

And when 1400+ technologists, practitioners and education leaders were asked to weigh in on the most important skills needed to succeed in the workforce of the future, many responses focused on the human talents they believe machines may not be able to duplicate, such as learning to deeply cultivate creativity, collaborative activity, abstract and systems thinking, complex communication, and the ability to thrive in diverse environments.2

Recently, the Career Advisory Board, established by DeVry University, released findings from their survey of 500 corporate and HR leaders across industries about the technology skills gap. 75% of respondents agreed employees should understand how to use technology to inform and drive business decisions, and 84% claimed those who know how to use the right tools in their fields are more effective.3

How Employers Can Bridge Their Own Gaps

  • Hire for critical hard skills, offer training for desired applied skills and encourage self-directed skills development in areas like teamwork and communication
  • Evolve corporate learning systems and look for a mix of innovative education formats that support continuous learning and digital fluency
  • Explore alternate credentialing and buildable education options that address the need for experiential learning and leadership development



1 Pew Research Center, Social and Demographic Trends, 2016, The State of American Jobs, on the internet at (visited October 4, 2017).

2 Pew Research Center, Internet and Technology, 2017, The Future of Jobs and Job Training, on the internet at (visited October 4, 2017).

 3 Career Advisory Board, 2017, Exploring America’s Tech Skills Gap and the Parallel Deficits of Applied Tech Skills and Hard Tech Skills, on the internet at (visited September 25, 2017).