The Top 10 Hardest To Fill Jobs Globally and the Reasons for the Disconnect in Times of High Unemployment | Article

Vacancies, HRO, HR Outsourcing, Finding jobsListen to the political rhetoric in the current U.S. presidential campaign and you would think offshoring is the key reason for the high American unemployment rate. Nowhere should this be more apparent than in manufacturing. However, a recent study by the Manpower Group, a provider of workforce solutions, explains the situation is far more nuanced. The study, ManpowerGroup’s 2011 Annual Talent Shortage survey, discovered a global job disconnect: an over-supply of available workers and an under-supply of qualified talent. The report states one in three employers worldwide confirms they cannot find the talent they need to fill their key vacancies. This finding jibes with the U.S. Department of Labor’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey. The report for December, issued February 6, found job openings in America reached a three-year high on December 31, 2011; to be exact, 3.4 million jobs were available. The Labor Department found employers in U.S. factories, retail and business services had the hardest time filling their positions. For example, in December the Labor Department found job openings in business and professional services increased by 149,000 over the previous month. Why is this happening? According to the ManpowerGroup report, employers cited the following as reasons why they are having difficulty finding the right people for key positions:

  • Lack of experience
  • A deficiency in technical skills
  • Poor soft skills such as collaboration, critical thinking and agility

During the recession, “companies were forced to preserve financial flexibility and do more with less,” says the report. Employers drastically reduced their workforces and “discovered they could generate more productivity and innovation from their people if they had the right person in the right job.” Today, companies have no intention of returning to pre-recession workforce levels. As a consequence, they have gotten more specific about the combination of skill sets they are looking for. Today they “not only seek technical capabilities in a job match but are holding out for the person that possess the interpersonal and cultural fit that will drive their organization forward,” the report states. With demand still low, employers have the luxury of waiting for that perfect person. “Employers can be selective about the specific skills they are looking for,” says the report. Why this is a problem The report states “business leaders worldwide are grappling with new demands for productivity and innovation. In today’s challenging environment, they are discovering that only talent can deliver it. Talent has become the key competitive differentiator.” In the past, employers could get away with a “just-in-time” hiring approach because the talent they needed was always there when they needed it. Today that is no longer possible, especially in the 10 categories listed below. The top 10 hardest to fill jobs globally Here is the study’s surprising list of the 10 hardest jobs to fill:

  1. Technicians
  2. Sales representatives
  3. Skilled trades workers
  4. Engineers
  5. Laborers
  6. Management/executives
  7. Accounting and finance staff
  8. IT staff
  9. Production operators
  10. Secretaries, personal assistants, administrative assistants and office support staff

Top 10 Jobs Employers Are Having Difficulty Filling Globally ManpowerGroup explains all these jobs have changed structurally. That means the skills needed to do them have changed, too. For example, an administrative assistant used to have to know how to type and take shorthand, handle diary management and prepare for meetings. Basic computing skills were good enough. Not today. Now an executive wants an admin with extensive IT skills, including publishing platforms and PowerPoint. The admin has to be able to arrange online webinars and global conference calls. And then there are the unteachable skills: executives want an admin with problem-solving and critical thinking abilities, according to the report. The fix Employees: Skills become antiquated quickly, so employable people will have to embrace lifelong learning. The ManpowerGroup report suggests employees create an “employee profile.” Then, every year they must check to make sure their skills align with the demands of the labor market. The key question to ask is, “Am I growing my skills?” Employers: They must develop a workforce strategy that “manufactures” the talent they need to execute their long-term business goals. Not doing so “leaves the business in peril,” according to the report. This strategy identifies the gaps between the talent that is currently available and the talent the company will need in the future. Employers also need to factor in “rapidly evolving technology.” Then, the report suggests employers adopt a “one-size-fits-one” approach, tailoring the training to build the skills of each employee that are most valuable to the company. One way to do this: assigning employees to “stretch projects.” Another way: working with local technical colleges that can teach specific skills. Both employers and employees need to understand this is a long-term solution. While the fix takes time, the time to begin is now.   How the studies were done: ManpowerGroup’s Annual Talent Shortage Survey polled almost 40,000 employers in 39 countries and territories. The Job Opens and Labor Turnover Survey examined employment data from 16,000 employers.

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