talent shortage“Water, water, everywhere, nor any drop to drink” wrote Samuel Taylor Coleridge in The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. With national unemployment hovering above 8% but employers still reporting significant trouble in filling open positions, it seems an apt description of the current labor market. We’ve heard the terms “talent mismatch,” “skills gap,” and “talent shortage” repeatedly in the news, and I’ve written on this before on Staffing 360. There is no shortage of stories on the topic. Recently, ManpowerGroup released the 2012 results of its annual talent shortage survey revealing that “49% of U.S. employers are experiencing difficulty filling mission-critical positions” and CareerBuilder’s new Talent Crunch Study reports that 38% have open positions for which they can’t find qualified people. Their study also highlighted some of the many reasons that companies should be concerned about those unfilled spots:

  • 34% of those surveyed reported job vacancies led to low quality work because of overworked employees;
  • 23% cited a loss in revenue;
  • 33% of employers said vacancies have caused lower morale; and
  • 17% saw higher turnover rates.

ManpowerGroup reports that in the US the top 10 hardest jobs to fill were:

  • Skilled Trades
  • Engineers
  • IT Staff
  • Sales Representatives
  • Accounting & FinanceStaff
  • Drivers
  • Mechanics
  • Nurses
  • Machinists/Machine Operators
  • Teachers

If you are a business person you are no doubt aware of these challenges and looking for solutions. Both Manpower and CareerBuilder offer some advice. CareerBuilder’s study reports that half of employers of all sizes are planning to hire workers who don’t have specific industry experience and train them and 31% plan to cross-train current employees. Those surveyed have or are considering offering flexible hours (25%), higher salary (22%) and remote work options (15%) in order to attract the talent they need. This article from highlights what Manpower and others refer to as “teachable fit” where employers identify promising candidates or employees, who may not be a perfect fit right now, but who have the potential, with training, education and time, to grow into the position.

If you are a regular reader then you know that I am certainly one who has advocated that businesses must recognize “the perfect” rarely exists. In past columns I’ve called on both employers and workers to invest in education and said that a commitment to ongoing training is necessary if they want to remain truly competitive. The results of these studies imply that more and more businesses are recognizing this and I hope that workers will recognize they must take advantage of these opportunities to advance their skills and knowledge.

Businesses must employ a variety of strategies to address talent acquisition issues. Savvy businesses know that contingent workers can be a good solution in many instances; augmenting your IT department with IT consultants may be the difference between success and failure. This Forbes article, Temps: 3 Reasons to Hire Them Right Now, nicely summarizes the benefits and I’ve talked about it before (Temporary Staffing’s Best Kept Secret). Author Kevin Kruse also rightly points out that whatever you call these workers “Temps. Contractors. Freelancers. Contingent Workers. Independent Professionals…businesses today are getting stuff done with non-permanent talent [with] some serious chops.” He calls them “super-skilled ninjas with advanced skills and strong work ethic” and based on many of the talented consultants at ATR, I have to agree!

Though you may think, and hope, that you are doing more with less, in truth, you are probably doing less with less. If you’ve got critical positions that remain unfilled, now might be the time to ask if you are fruitlessly waiting for the elusive perfect candidate when a teachable one is available. And you definitely don’t want to be waiting for a fairytale ending that never happens when ATR is ready to help you find what you need in a smart, dedicated consultant. We’re just a phone call or email away!

Jerry Brenholz
President and CEO
ATR International


Still trying to hire the best IT talent? Not having much luck? Dowload our free eGuide: The 9 Must-Ask Questions That Will Guarantee a (near) Perfect IT Contractor Hire


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