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What are the latest skills shortage findings and how should we respond?

By The Office Coach - Dec 23, 2016
What are the latest skills shortage findings and how should we respond?

It’s ten years since ManpowerGroup conducted their first Talent Shortage Survey. What are their latest findings and how should we respond?

According to their latest report, ManpowerGroup “surveyed more than 41,700 hiring managers in 42 countries to identify the proportion of employers having difficulty filling positions, which jobs are difficult to fill, and why. Employers were also asked about the impact talent shortages have on their organisations and what steps they are taking to address them”.

Significantly, 31% of South African employers surveyed reported talent shortages. We have one of the world’s highest unemployment rates, so our talent shortage is not one derived from lack of numbers. What is also notable is the list of top 10 jobs employers in EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) are having difficulty filling.

Starting with the most difficult to source: skilled trades workers (e.g. chefs, bakers, butchers, mechanics and electricians), engineers, sales representatives, drivers, management/executives, technicians, accounting and finance staff, IT staff, secretaries/ PAs, administrative assistants/ office support staff and laborers.

Many of these are addressed in the government’s National Skills Plan, with incredible funding and incentives to upskill our workforce. Yet, 43% of employers in EMEA report a lack of candidates with the necessary technical competencies as the most common reason for the talent shortage in EMEA. Why are employers struggling to source talent with the right competences?

There are other problems facing employer. Soft skills deficits are identified by 16%, and these are most commonly related to lack of enthusiasm and motivation (7%) and lack of professionalism (5%). In 12% of cases, employers say candidates expect more pay than is being offered.

The value of labour market information like ManpowerGroup Talent Shortage Surveys is that it gives employers some forecasts from which they can determine their people strategies. If the statistics outlined above are familiar in your workplace, then here are some questions you may need to address:

  • Do you need to redefine qualifying employment criteria to include individuals who present a “teachable fit”? Many skills can be taught but attitude and motivation are determined by individuals. Employers cannot control or manage these in their people. Look at your hiring practices – do you look for people who show the right attitudes, who are hungry to learn and make an impact in the world? Those are the people you want to invest in. They are the ones you want in your businesses. Do your hiring practices allow you to identify these high potentials, regardless of their qualifications?
  • Are your Human Resources and procurement practices discerning enough to source high-quality, high-impact learning and development opportunities to your people? The decision to implement training interventions and the selection of providers to deliver them is usually driven by input cost. Course outlines are requested so that procurement and HR personnel can compare quotes only, not the quality of the provider or the programme to be delivered. Training is conducted over one-day sessions to limit people’s time out of the office and feedback reports from facilitators are rarely considered. This is not how anyone should be approaching skills development if they want to see return on their investment. There is a better way.
  • Do you have the infrastructure to retain key talent? For example, do you need to make a positive move to attract older workers? Should you make the introduction of family-friendly policies a priority so as to attract the widest range of suitable staff? Can your benefits packages be tailored to meet the needs of your people at different stages of their lives?

Shifting these statistics to reflect a better prospect is going to take a monumental effort on the part of government, industry and individuals. These challenges are not new, so business behaviours need to change. In the words of W.L. Bateman, “If you keep on doing what you have always done, you’ll keep on getting what you have always got”.