Half of employers cannot fill open positions: survey

Percentage of employers reporting recruiting difficulties jumps dramatically over the past year.
Written by Joe McKendrick, Contributing Writer on

It's a disconnect that keeps surfacing in company hiring and employment data: unemployment and underemployment remains stubbornly high -- yet employers are begging for skilled talent.

The latest evidence of the Great Disconnect is the latest survey from ManpowerGroup, a large temp staffing and employment company, which finds that the percentage of US employers having problems finding qualified talent soared from 14% a year ago to 52% today.

Manpower's survey of more than 1,300 US employers finds the jobs most difficult to fill include skilled trades, sales representatives and engineers. The most common reasons employers say they are having trouble filling jobs are candidates looking for more pay than is offered, lack of technical skills and lack of experience.

As the ManpowerGroup survey shows, companies rely on technology in a big way, and this reliance grew during the recent economic downturn.

Nearly one in four employers in the survey say "environmental/market factors" are to blame for skills shortages -- they simply aren’t finding anyone available in their markets. Another 22% say applicants lack the technical competencies or “hard” skills needed for the job. Another 15% cite a lack of business knowledge.

Jonas Prising, ManpowerGroup president of the Americas, explains it this way:

"The tremendous spike in U.S. employers that are having difficulty filling positions tells us that we're in the thick of the much-anticipated global talent mismatch.... jobs have structurally changed over time, and the skills needed to fulfill these roles have too. While talent cannot be 'manufactured' in the short term, a robust workforce strategy will ensure that companies can find the people to support their business strategy, and that employees have the opportunity to pursue meaningful career paths."

The top 10 hardest jobs to fill include:

  1. Skilled Trades
  2. Sales Representatives
  3. Engineers
  4. Drivers
  5. Accounting & Finance Staff
  6. IT Staff
  7. Management/Executives
  8. Teachers
  9. Secretaries/Administrative Assistants
  10. Machinist/Machine Operator

ManpowerGroup also released an analysis that makes recommendations for how employers should address this skills shortage, including adoption of a more holistic workforce strategy, updating work models and people practices to reflect the realities of the 21st century and collaborating with governments, academia and individuals.

The analysis recommends that employers focus on retention policies, especially promoting training and development to existing staff. However, the survey finds, only one in five employers is concentrating on training and development to fill the gap. Only 6% of employers are working more closely with educational institutions to create curricula that close knowledge gaps.

Leaps of faith don't seem to be part of the equation. Interestingly, only about 15% say they are giving people currently without the right job skills a chance to learn and grow.

(Photo Credit: Idaho Department of Environmental Quality)

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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