Occupational therapists topped the American Staffing Association’s Skills Gap Index list of 172 hard-to-fill occupations for the year ending in June 2015, according to an Aug. 11 news release.

OT_News-01Rounding out the top 10 difficult-to-fill occupations were: heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers, speech-language pathologists, photographic process workers and processing machine operators, physical therapists, OTAs, family and general practitioners, microbiologists, surgeons and nurse practitioners, according to the release.

During the past quarter, microbiologists and surgeons moved into the top 10 list, displacing merchandise displayers and window trimmers, and physician assistants, according to the release.

“Demand for staffing and recruiting services continues to grow as labor markets tighten and companies place a higher strategic focus on talent as a key business differentiator,” Richard Wahlquist, ASA president and CEO, said in a news release. “Partnering with staffing and recruiting firms to develop and implement new and more effective workforce solutions helps companies more successfully source qualified talent and narrow their skills gaps.”

Founded in 1966, the ASA is the largest professional organization representing the U.S. staffing, recruiting and workforce solutions industry, according to the group’s website. The skills gap index was established using a hiring indicator developed by ASA corporate partner CareerBuilder and draws data from more than 90 sources, according to the website. Using a scale of 1 to 100 with lower scores indicating harder to fill, the indicator measures the level of difficulty to recruit for a specific occupation based on demand, supply of active candidates and total population working in that job. The ASA skills gap index concentrates on hiring indicator scores of 50 or less for hard-to-fill occupations, with a demand of 2,000 jobs or more.

The ASA Skills Gap Index is updated quarterly. Results including the third and fourth quarters of 2015 are scheduled to be posted Nov. 3 and Feb. 2, 2016, respectively.

For information about ASA, visit www.americanstaffing.net.