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How to Address Shortages in Workforce Talent


Skilled TIG welders are in short supply.

Employers are reporting widespread difficulty in recruiting qualified labor.

A recent report by the Manpower Group highlights this skills shortage but also provides an insight as to what employers are doing about it.

According to a survey of over 42,000 employers worldwide, 40% are reporting difficulties in finding talent to fill open positions. This is an increase of 2% year-on-year and up from 30% in 2009, the low point following the global financial crisis.

Biggest Shortages Are in Skilled Trades

For the fifth year in a row, employers are having the most difficulty filling openings in skilled trades such as electricians, carpenters, welders and other construction trades.

Next come IT staff, such as developers and programmers, database administrators and IT managers, up from last year as companies continually move towards digitization of their organization. IT staff shortages have jumped from seventh place to second place in the skills shortage ranking.

Sales representatives, including sales executives and retail salespeople follow in third place, down one spot from last year. Engineers ranked fourth-hardest to fill, followed by technicians in production, operations and maintenance.

Sixth place in shortage of skilled workers was held by drivers, including delivery drivers and drivers of trucks as well as heavy and construction equipment. Accounting and management staff took seventh and eighth place, while operators of special production machinery took ninth place, up one rank from last year.

Finally, office support staff were the tenth hardest positions to recruit.

Lack of Applicants and Skills

Employers report that fully 43% of positions either had no applicants (24% of the time) or applicants lacked the necessary technical skills to do the job. Applicants for 19% of open positions lacked the requisite experience and in 14% of cases candidates sought more pay than was offered. Finally, employers said that applicants for 11% of positions lacked the soft skills and workplace competencies sought.

What Employers Are Doing to Fill the Shortage

More than half of employers surveyed (53%) are overcoming the skills shortage by training and developing existing staff. This is a jump from around 1 in 5 who said training existing staff was their strategy last year.

Many (36%) are recruiting outside the talent pool, while 28% say they are exploring alternative sourcing strategies. Additional perks and benefits are being offered by 27% of employers and 26% say they have increased pay packages to recruits. Another 19% report that they are outsourcing the work.

Recruiting ‘Learnability’

An article by Harvard Business Review¬† coined the term ‘Learnability’ as a necessary trait for employability in today’s job market.

Workers who have a hungry mind and are eager to learn new things will help reduce training investments. Individuals who dive deeper than simply googling for instant information will be able to translate information into actual expertise. Then those employees and recruits who have displayed learnability should be rewarded by providing new and challenging opportunities that will continue to stimulate them.

Leaders are a significant influence on teams and culture within an organization and need to be tasked with enhancing employees learnability.

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