The bad news is that there is a talent mismatch — many of the unemployed don’t have the skills necessary to fill the numerous job openings. The even worse news is experts expect the problem to deepen before it improves.
The ManpowerGroup recently conducted its seventh annual talent shortage survey and identified the 10 most difficult jobs to fill (more on that in a bit). Melanie Holmes, a vice president with the company, explains.
During the recession, employers made broad, deep cuts to their workforces. They learned to do more with less, she explains. “People who remained employed expanded their roles; they picked up new skills, they added responsibilities.”
As a result, many of the jobs that were cut during that time are not coming back. They have morphed into higher skill and higher paying positions. Consequently employers are more selective about the skills they require for an open job.
“They are looking for people who have multiple skill sets and varied backgrounds, and those individuals are hard to find, especially among individuals who have been out of the job market for an extended period of time,” adds Holmes.
Two more numbers from the survey: 49% of employers are having a hard time filling vacant positions; 55% of those cite a lack of qualified applicants.
Now for that top 10 list of where, oh where, are these skilled workers:
- Skilled trades
- Information technology staff
- Sales representatives
- Accounting and finance staff
- Machinists and machine operators
More from Holmes:
“Many skilled tradespeople are older and beginning to retire. As we’re losing workers to retirement, we’re finding that there is not enough young talent to fill the ranks. We have seen less emphasis on steering youth toward vocational and technical programs over the last 20 years, and now we’re feeling the impact.”
Part of solving this problem involves changing the mindsets of parents and young people and bringing honor back to the skilled trades, she says. Careers in areas like plumbing and welding offer a lot of opportunity and family-sustaining wages.
It turns out geography also plays a significant role. Skilled trades workers may be in short supply in one region but find it tough to find a job elsewhere. The same goes for engineers (No. 2), machinists (No. 9) and teachers (No. 10).