Monday 19 March 2018

Shortage of talent is global phenomenon despite record levels of unemployment

SKILLS shortages are not limited to Ireland. Employers across the world are having trouble finding skilled technicians, sales representatives and engineers, according to a major survey last month from global staffing services company ManpowerGroup.

The talent shortage that was muted during the recession is becoming more acute amid a labour market recovery outside Ireland that raises questions over whether companies will be able to compete effectively once the labour market tightens.

According to Manpower's annual survey, 34pc of employers around the world report difficulty finding the right workers for some jobs, up three percentage points from a year ago. The talent shortage comes despite high unemployment in many countries, and could quickly get worse as economies rebound.

In some countries, the jump from 2010 is stark. More than half of Indian employers have trouble filling positions, up from 16pc a year before. Employers in Japan, Germany, Canada and the United Kingdom also face growing talent shortages.

China, Italy and France were the only large economies where talent shortages eased from 2010 to 2011.

In the United States, 52pc of employers are struggling to fill open jobs, up from 14pc last year.

"Companies' inability to fill mission-critical roles because of a lack of skills and experience should serve as a wake-up call," Manpower chief executive Jeff Joerres said.

Manpower's annual survey is based on interviews with 40,000 employers in 39 countries and territories.

It found the biggest skills shortages in Japan, India, Brazil, Australia and Taiwan. Employers in Poland, Ireland, Norway, Peru and Spain are the least likely to face similar problems.

Hardest-to-fill jobs

The hardest-to-fill US jobs are skilled trades, sales reps, engineers, drivers, accounting and finance staffers, and information technology positions.

The global ranking of in-demand workers is similar, with technicians ranking first, followed by sales staff and skilled trades workers.

Like Ireland, the list of in-demand jobs globally has changed little from last year; or from 2006, when the survey began.

Though job roles stay the same, the skills they require have evolved. For example, an administrative job that called for basic computing and time management skills in 2006 now requires extensive technology know-how, such as creating PowerPoint slides or organising "Webinars."

Employers say many candidates lack the required experience, technical skills or formal qualifications; they demand more pay than is offered; or there are simply too few applicants. Part of the problem is that people are reluctant to change jobs, or move, in a still-uncertain economic climate.

To address shortages of skilled workers, employers are providing extra training to current staff and changing how and where they recruit, and 8pc are raising starting salaries, according to the survey.

Others don't feel the issue is sufficiently pressing, so they are leaving jobs unfilled, figuring they can fill them later. Such "just-in-time" businesses may have to settle for sub-optimal workers, or stretch existing employees further: overtime hours are up in some large economies.

That is a short-sighted strategy, Manpower argues, because upturns in hiring can be abrupt, leaving companies to compete for the same candidates.

Manpower's advice is that employers collaborate with educational institutions and government. Companies such as Oshkosh Corporation and Lockheed Martin have adopted such a "manufacturing of talent" work force strategy, Manpower said.

Facing a shortage of workers amid an upturn in defences orders, Oshkosh partnered with a technical school to develop training courses for workers referred by the specialty truck maker. (Additional reporting Reuters)

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