Here’s a conundrum: How can the U.S. have a chronically high unemployment rate (8.2 percent with over 12 million unemployed, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics on June 1) while 10 million manufacturing jobs go unfilled?
Yes, 10 million, according to a report released April 24 by the World Economic Forum and Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Ltd.
On May 29 ManpowerGroup released its seventh annual Talent Shortage Survey. After surveying more than 1,300 U.S. employers, the study found 49 percent of American companies experienced difficulty filling mission-critical positions. (Editor’s note: this is an improvement. It was 52 percent last year!). The survey found “a significant portion of U.S. employers continue to face hiring challenges.”
The most common reasons these jobs go begging, according to the survey:
- Lack of applicants
- Applicants looking for more pay than offered
- Lack of experienced candidates
Jim McCoy, vice president, ManpowerGroup Solutions, says “the skills mismatch has major ramifications.” He says the jobs most in demand (see list below) require “quite a bit” of technical training plus multiple skills. For example, these days the No. 1 category two years running is skilled trades. That’s because being an electrician is no longer enough. Enterprises need an electrician who also has experience in electrical engineering given the complexity of today’s projects.
McCoy says RPO providers are now helping their buyers adopt alternative ways to find the talent they need. They include:
- Finding people who are a teachable fit. The theory is, if a person has some skills and an aptitude for the job, the employer can teach him or her the other skills they need. “We help them find a ‘mostly ready’ candidate who can gain any additional skills needed with training,” explains McCoy.
For example, during the housing boom from 2004-2007, home builders needed land procurement specialists, people who could determine if a particular parcel was suitable for development. “They were nowhere to be found,” recalls McCoy. ManpowerGroup Solutions, however, found people in the military who understood geological suitability. “They just didn’t know the business side of land development,” he explains.
As part of an RPO program, ManpowerGroup Solutions helped its home builder client fill the gap with soldiers transitioning out of the military. They learned the commercial development skills on the job.
- Finding pockets of surplus globally. McCoy calls this option “the borderless talent solution.” He says RPOs survey the employment situation in different countries to identify pockets of talent that are needed elsewhere. The RPO then helps these candidates with the requisite visas and immigration forms so they can fill the employment gap in another country, a strategy called strategic migration.
- Working with trade schools. RPO providers like ManpowerGroup Solutions work with local trade schools and universities to help design the curriculum to produce graduates with the skills the country needs. “We’re partnering with educational institutions around the world to ensure that students who finish a program are work-ready, not just graduate-ready,” McCoy says.
This strategy does work. Nurses, which were once No. 1 on the hardest to fill jobs list, are now No. 8. That’s because nursing schools increased their capacity to produce more nurses to meet the need.
In fact, McCoy believes this is one way to cure the nation’s larger unemployment problem. “Out-of-work Americans need re-training to gain the skills that employers need today,” he says.
This is an important consideration for the future. Explains Craig Giffi, co-author of the World Forum Report. “In the race to future prosperity, nothing will matter more than talent. The skills gap that exists today will not likely close in the near future, which means companies and countries that can attract, develop and retain the highest skilled talent — from scientists, researchers and engineers to technicians and skilled production workers — will come out on top.”
How the ManpowerGroup Annual Talent Shortage Survey was done: The company surveyed nearly 40,000 employers in 41 countries. About 1,300 U.S. employers were in that group.
The Hardest To Fill Jobs in the U.S. 2012 and 2011
- Skilled Trades
- IT Staff
- Sales Representatives
- Accounting and Finance Staff
Accounting and Finance Staff
- Machinists/Machine Operators
Source: ManpowerGroup’s Talent Shortage Survey
May 29, 2012