Don’t be misled by the answers to several questions in the Indiana Chamber’s 12th annual employer workforce survey. No, the talent gap has not mysteriously faded away. Instead, respondents are finding new strategies to deal with the ongoing dilemma.

Those who cite filling workforce/talent needs as their biggest challenge decreased dramatically – from 33% a year ago to 12% in 2019. Add in those who cite talent as one of their biggest challenges and the number declined from 80% to 45%. These percentages had been increasing each year since 2014.

“A slowing national economy, tariffs and ongoing trade disputes are some of the potential concerns for employers today compared to recent years,” says Indiana Chamber President and CEO Kevin Brinegar. “But, given the survey responses, another strategy seems to be accepting that the talent shortage is not going to change any time soon and simply finding different methods for dealing with it.”

Employers are assigning more responsibilities internally (25% in 2019; 18% in 2017) and hiring underqualified applicants (23% in 2019 compared to 11% two years earlier). In addition, 71% confirm they are willing to hire an individual with less education/skills than desired and allow them to work while completing on-the-job training.

“It’s adapting to what could be described as the ‘new normal,’ ” shares Jason Bearce, Indiana Chamber vice president of education and workforce policy. Bearce presented the results last week at the Chamber’s inaugural Indiana Workforce Summit.

One distinct trend of the last five years remained largely intact. Forty-nine percent of respondents left jobs unfilled in the previous 12 months due to underqualified applicants; that compared to 51% a year ago and 47% in 2017.

These findings and more – including missed partnership opportunities – are part of the survey from the Chamber and its Institute for Workforce Excellence®. There were more than 1,000 responses with 89 of Indiana’s 92 counties represented. Skillful Indiana was the lead partner, with additional support from Amatrol and WGU Indiana.

View the full press release and results’ PowerPoint.