America’s Tough Jobs Are Getting Even Tougher to Fill

Aug 25, 2011
This article is part of a series called News & Trends.

With 25 million Americans out of work or underemployed, you’d think it wouldn’t be too hard to find a teacher, an admin assistant, or an accountant. But you would be wrong, according to Manpower.

Those jobs are among the 10 toughest jobs to fill in the U.S., says Manpower’s annual Talent Shortage Survey, which also reports that 52 percent of the employers in the survey are having trouble filling jobs.  Only in Japan and India do more companies report talent hard to find.

Globally, a third of all employers say they have difficulty filling jobs.  Lack of experienced workers is the most frequently cited reason,  globally, as well as in every region in the survey. In the Americas, lack of experience was followed by a lack of skills.

Particularly surprising was the the rise in U.S. companies reporting hiring difficulty. In the 2010 survey, only 14 percent of companies reported problems filling jobs. Now the percentage has nearly quadrupled.

If it seems unlikely the hiring situation could have worsened so much so fast, part of the disconnect may have to do with when the survey was conducted – months ago, long before the current round of gloomy economic reports started coming out.

However, SHRM’s LINE report has been chronicling a similar, if less dramatic, rise in recruiting difficulty. The most recent LINE report says recruiting difficulty in the manufacturing area is up 11.2 points over a year ago. In the service sector, recruiting difficulty rose a more modest 2.7 points.

The LINE report authors attempt to make sense of the situation writing:

Considering that millions of people are actively seeking work and still cannot obtain employment in their industries, the rise in recruiting difficulty may be attributed to new or enhanced skill requirements for newly created high-level jobs.

Some jobs on the list, like sales jobs and engineers,  have historically been tough to fill. IT, though the jobs didn’t make Manpower’s list for the last couple of years, was sixth on this one, a consequence of employers upgrading systems and adding staff that needs to be supported.

The August IT jobs report from Dice shows the number of openings increasing by double-digits from a year ago in the top U.S. tech markets. In Boston, the number of tech openings jumped by 42 percent, eclipsing the rest of the country, including Silicon Valley.

However, even in tech’s holy land, companies are having trouble attracting workers. So acute is the situation in Silicon Valley, that some startups are unable to launch or attract investors, even when the concept has appeal. According to CNNMoney today: “Skilled developers are Silicon Valley’s scarcest resource.”

This article is part of a series called News & Trends.
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