One in Two Employers Impacted by a Talent Shortage

This article was originally posted on The MetLife Employee Benefits Resource Community and was written by Anne Sternheim, New York Times.

Despite high unemployment and recent economic conditions, many employers are facing talent shortages. In a recent Towers Watson survey of more than 700 companies around the world, half (51 percent) report that growth could be impacted by the loss of talent in key skill areas, 49 percent indicate a lack of succession planning, and 38 percent cite an inability to attract necessary talent. What’s more, Manpower Group’s sixth annual Talent Shortage Survey reveals that 52 percent of U.S. employers are reporting difficulty filling mission critical positions within their organizations, up from 14 percent in 2010.

“There are always talent shortages in certain sectors in spite of economic conditions,” explains Leonard F. Sanicola, benefits practice leader at WorldatWork. “A talent shortage is not a body count; it’s a lack of viable candidates.”

Cutting Across Industries and Professions
According to Dr. Ira S. Wolfe, president of Success Performance Solutions, “Many industries will be facing talent shortages because of an aging population that will be retiring and a lack of skilled professionals in the pipeline.”

Industries facing critical talent shortages include technology, manufacturing, life sciences/healthcare, energy, and transportation. Specific positions in these and other industries will feel this lack of talent.

“There is a shortage of engineers across all disciplines,” notes Dr. Wolfe. “Other professions impacted include nurses, primary care doctors, geriatric physicians, math and science teachers, HVAC workers, welders, and maintenance technicians.”

Employers are also concerned about a lack of qualified managers and leaders. As boomers work longer and delay retirement, Gen X has not been able to move into these positions resulting in a shortage of qualified candidates. Not surprisingly, just 28 percent of Gen Xers plan to stay in their current positions according to a recent Deloitte study.

Changing professional requirements are also driving the talent shortage. For example, certain fields now require professional degrees. “Construction was always learned on the job whereas now many on site superintendents have bachelors degrees in construction management,” asserts Dan Ryan, principal at Ryan Research & Consulting.

Other sectors such as manufacturing and energy utilities find it harder to attract talent because Gen X and Gen Y are not that interested in these particular fields.

Recruitment and Retention Measures
Some industries are trying to address the talent shortage with recruitment and retention measures.

“Because nursing is physically demanding, healthcare is innovating to retain older, experienced workers. Equipment that makes it easier to lift patients and teams of people of varying ages represent strategic changes in the work environment,” reports Jackie James, director of research at The Sloan Center on Aging and Work.

Other sectors are becoming more ambitious about promoting their professions. “The ACE Mentor Program of America promotes the architecture, engineering, and construction careers starting at the high school level,” notes Dan Ryan of Ryan Research & Consulting.

Strategic Workforce Planning
Employers are realizing the need for strategic workforce planning that aligns with their business goals and meets talent demands now, in the future, and through changing economic climates. 

Assess Long Term Needs
“Engage in workforce planning that gives you insight into your pipeline and what the supply of talent looks like for the various jobs in your organization. Segment those jobs based on which are truly pivotal to the execution of your business model and hire accordingly,” suggests Ravin Jesuthasan, global head of talent management at Towers Watson,

Invest in Training
“Employers need to take a skills inventory to establish present and future needs, identify those gaps, and apply the right training and recruitment,” says Leonard F. Sanicola of WorldatWork.

As the economy improves and workers starting looking elsewhere for new opportunities, the need for strategic workforce planning becomes even more important and critical for employers.

Anne Sternheim was hired by The New York Times marketing department to provide material for this newsletter.



Ira S Wolfe