Is there really a skills gap? Are companies having difficulty filling open positions from the glut of resumes they receive? The answer is “yes,” for nearly 40 percent of employers. For example, there is a shortage of construction contractors and industrial workers in Waukesha County, though in 2013, Governor Scott Walker earmarked funds for worker development.
Statistics show one shortage is in skilled labor. Applicants for trades are hard to find: mechanics, bakers, graphic artists or electricians. Shortages also exist in professions: nurses and teachers, for example.
Causes result from a few factors.
- Retirement removes Boomers from the work force at the rate of about 10,000 per day, and a shortage of skilled employees means that workers are unable to take their place.
- Firms fear conducting expensive training only to have their employees learn the job then move on or become poached by another firm.
- The economy and new employment laws have directly affected hiring.
- The time and expense of hiring becomes cumbersome.
- Talent is being educated in fields of study irrelevant to needs of the marketplace
- Skills learned become outdated due to exponential changes in technology and level of experience.
Though automation has eased the hiring process for many companies, its rigid adherence to keywords and exact titles in job descriptions may eliminate potential candidates for the job. Plus, employers often list “character issues” like punctuality and motivation as a greater deficiency than technical skills and education—important traits that automated systems aren’t likely to recognize.
Peter Cappelli, of Wharton’s Center for Human Resources, thinks employers now look at filling a job like buying a spare part1. They expect the person to fit exactly without much investment in training.
Cappelli believes the problem is not one of education2 and reviews3 the evidence saying there are not major shortages of workers with basic reading and math skills or of workers with engineering and technical training; if anything, too many workers may be overeducated. Despite this factor, employers encounter real difficulties hiring workers with the skills to deal with new technologies.
Six ways to close the talent gap
Because staffing firms may have a sense of what skills will be needed down the road as they focus on the future of the job market and trends, they see the workforce needs changing. This foresight can help them guide existing talent toward needed skills. Plus, a staffing firm can track developing talent and keep touch with these important candidates.
- Build your brand. Let applicants know you are willing to invest in training programs and on-the-job learning. Subsidize education. Let them know you pay a fair wage, promote from within and reward effort.
- Another way to close the gap is to build relationships with colleges, trade schools and universities to begin mentoring and internship programs. Talk about the skills gaps you witness in the job market and coach candidates to acquire the skill sets to be more desirable.
- Certain companies work with colleges to design training courses and launch combined business ventures. Toyota and the Bluegrass College of Kentucky4 collaborated to create a car factory replica where workers and students learn together.
- Respect your diverse and multigenerational workforce. Learn what makes them tick. Understand their needs and lead them accordingly. Consider employee referrals.
- Work with a company which cultivates existing talent. Then, if you have placed a candidate once, he or she is likely to come back for a future assignment and even refer others.
- Follow social media to recruit a potential candidate. As an employer, there are a handful of resources to amplify learning about a candidate. Make sure your brand is strongly listed on all kinds of devices, particularly smart phones.
Put these tactics into effect and trust that the skills gap will close.
Nissen Staffing Continuum can assist you with your employment plans and strategies.
At Nissen Staffing Continuum, our focus is on you and your success. We work as your strategic partner by adding value, helping you avoid obstacles, and reach your objectives. Contact us today and discover how we can assist you with your hiring process.