Future Shock: 3 Trends That Will Make Recruiting More Difficult

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Jul 27, 2016
This article is part of a series called Wake-up Call.

The World Economic Forum predicts that recruitment is going to become a lot more challenging in the next five years for just about every job in every industry. The WEF report — the Future of Jobs — attributes this situation to an increasing mismatch between available skills and those needed for jobs that are emerging as a result of technology and the changing nature of work. For example, in mobility industries (transportation, airlines, trucking, automotive) it’s predicted that nearly 40 percent of the key skills required by 2020 are not key today.

There are three trends that have created the challenges we’re seeing as recruiters and will continue to face.


The first is education. Over the last 10 years, other than in healthcare, the percentage of degrees in most categories has remained about the same. In the U.S., the proportion of college graduates in STEM fields is about the same today as it was in 2005. Healthcare-related degrees have increased, but in computer related fields the percentage has decreased! Only 3 percent of about 1.9 million graduates in 2014 received a degree in computer-related fields, down from 3.8 percent in 2005. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that computer-related jobs that require a degree will grow by 19 percent by 2024.

Even in healthcare, the number of graduates is barely enough to keep up with job growth. The American Nursing Association estimates that about 1.1 million new nursing jobs will need to be filled over 10 years ending in 2022, but nursing programs are only now producing enough graduates to keep up with demand.


The U.S. population is aging and will start to shrink. The fertility rates dropped to 1.9 in 2010, below the rate of 2.1 per woman required to maintain a stable population. Any growth can only come from increased immigration.

But there’s not much appetite to increase immigration. A Gallup poll found that immigration is a top concern for Americans so regardless of who gets elected President or which party controls Congress immigration will likely be even more restricted.

The Brexit Aftermath

The decision by the British to leave the European Union has created a great deal of economic uncertainty in the UK and Europe. Brexit may well be the beginning of the end for the EU since other countries may also leave. Frustration and dissatisfaction with the EU is high on the continent.

One consequence of this situation is that money will flow to the U.S. as investors seek a safe haven. This is already happening as sales of U.S. Treasury bills to foreign buyers are increasing, driving yields down. Investors seeking higher returns will inevitably funnel money to private companies and buy stocks. This will likely continue for a long time. Europe, aside from Germany and France, will face an uncertain economic climate for years. Other major economies are not as attractive as the U.S. Economic growth in Japan has been sluggish for 20 years, and China has its own problems that will keep growth down.

Boom Times for Recruiters

Put it all together and it seems that recruiters will have plenty to keep them busy for years.

But the supply of talent is not going to increase. Choices for what to major in depend a lot on what kids learn before they get to college. Changing the fundamentals of primary and secondary education to affect degree choices will happen very slowly. Demographic trends are nearly impossible to reverse. People aren’t about to start having more children. Current immigration policy is at odds with talent needs. Only 15 percent of those given green cards receive them because they have needed skills. Even the numbers of those admitted as temporary workers continues to decline sharply.

Make no mistake, it will not be easy.

This article is part of a series called Wake-up Call.
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