There is a perfect storm impacting today’s job market. Three new forces are influencing companies’ ability to hire and workers’ ability to be hired in a way that is mutually beneficial to both parties. These are the:
- rapid infusion of technology into the workplace
- decline in vocational training in the schools
- mass exodus of highly skilled baby boomers from the workforce
More people are out of work, but high unemployment has not equated to a bigger, more qualified pool of candidates for the companies that are hiring.
Employers all over the country are reporting difficulty finding skilled professionals and skilled industrial workers as well as qualified managers.
Today, there is a skills gap in almost every sector of our economy.
What difficulties are employers having?
Our work environment is different than in the past. Our world is now global….not local; it is technology-oriented…not task-oriented. The days are gone when all a person needed was determination and a strong back to find a job that earned him a living wage.
The demand for workers who can simply perform tasks (i.e. filing, stocking shelves, loading trucks, etc.) is falling precipitously, but the supply is not.
Whose fault is it?
The minimum standards for becoming a “working adult” have been raised. Many workers, who found themselves out of work during the last recession, are now finding themselves unemployable…mainly because their skills are outdated.
Many (employees and employers alike) point their fingers at the educational system. It is said that not enough colleges – mainly community colleges – are aligning themselves with the needs of local employers.
However, changing the national (or even a state’s) entire educational curriculum is not going to happen overnight. In order for a high school’s career program or a college system’s course offerings to produce workers who have the skills you need, there needs to be a huge shift in public policy; that is not likely to improve in the near term. When it does, employers’ needs will have changed again.
Not Just One Solution
Because of this constant level of change, the problem cannot be solved strictly through a modification of this country’s educational curriculum. In a recent Deloitte study, respondents reported that the #1 skills deficiency is problem-solving skills, not the technical skills that many demand that high school and college’s focus on. Close behind were lacks in:
- basic technical training(degree, industry certification or vocational training)
- basic employability skills (attendance, timeliness, work ethic)
Employers do realize that they are going to have to train and develop their workforce in order to be successful, but without critical thinking and problem-solving skills, the worker will not be able to digest, analyze and apply their training nor communicate their new knowledge base to others.
What Can an Employer Do?
Employers can do other things too. While many business owners recognize that most candidates do not come to them perfectly suited for their job opening, many of them rely on outdated processes for recruiting and training those new hires. In just the same way a business will fail by depending on “snail mail” for communication, a business will struggle to find and effectively develop talent if they use the same methodologies they used 10 years ago.
Employers need to pursue more creative approaches to recruitment and talent management. Workforce planning is important, but that needs to go hand-in-hand with the creation and management of an effective employer brand, new performance and assessment tools and other formal processes (such as knowledge management plans). Processes that are designed to capture critical information (through technology) and then passing it on to new workers can help reduce training time, improve collaboration and enhance communication.
The answer lies not in one particular area. To solve the skills gap issues, employers will have to approach the problem from several different areas, including improved training and measurement tools and innovative recruiting techniques. This is where Snelling can help. We have over 60 years of experience in recruitment and talent management and have been an innovator during this last quarter century of rapid change. We know how to recruit for the intangible qualities you need in your workers, and we have the experience you need to develop the processes and programs you need to recruit and maintain a talented and viable workforce. I invite you to visit our website today, and if you have any question, please contact your local office for assistance.
By David Allen, Snelling.com
NOTE: A full-color, downloadable PDF is available.