HR Is Facing Serious Skills Gaps that Need Attention, Especially Right Now – According to New Study by the HR Research Institute

Although HR professionals tend to be highly educated, with 41% holding a master’s degree or higher, their professed areas of expertise do not often align well with today’s crisis. Whereas a majority consider themselves experts in the area of “employment, recruitment and placement,” relatively few say they have expertise in risk management or health and safety, two critical areas of competence that employers will need on their team during the current pandemic.

The free research report, The State of HR Skills and Education in 2020, is now available for download.’s Research Institute conducted the study of HR professionals to take an in-depth look at the state of HR professionals’ education and skills and how they are able keep them up to date.

Further examination highlights the details of where HR professionals today are lacking in specific skills. Only 21% have expertise in risk assessment and just 23% consider themselves expert in both employee wellness and health and safety.

Data analysis also indicates there are often large gaps between the perceived importance of a skill and the HR professional’s actual competence in that area. HR skills that will need much further improvement in the near future include:

    • leveraging and accommodating a range of diverse perspectives and cultural backgrounds,
    • understanding and using HR data,
    • demonstrating HR expertise, and
    • making business decisions and recommendations.

“We are learning on the fly in this pandemic and discovering essential skills and abilities that are needed by HR departments and leadership,” stated Debbie McGrath, Chief Instigator and CEO of  “HR professionals can now reevaluate their individual professional needs and skills gaps to ready their workforce for the future. This includes not only adjusting to new economic and wellness realities but improving in areas such as diversity, inclusion, and equity.”

Download the full report which includes details on ten key takeaways to help HR departments gain insights into how to improve staff capabilities to be agile and prepared for the future.



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Jenna Watson Gudgel
PR Manager, News