August 2013
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TD Magazine

Talent Shortages Worldwide Put Businesses at Peril

Thursday, August 8, 2013

A lack of skilled workers makes it difficult to capitalize on business opportunities.

A growing number of employers acknowledge the peril of conducting business when talent management strategies are put on hold, according to Manpower's recent survey on the global labor market. Nearly eight out of 10 employers surveyed report that they are taking steps to grow their talent pools and access the skills that drive business results. Yet more than one out of five employers report that they are currently doing nothing to remedy skills gaps. That could spell trouble if organizations are unprepared or unable to handle the business opportunities that come along.

Thirty-five percent of more than 38,000 employers worldwide report that they are experiencing difficulty filling jobs. Chief factors contributing to talent shortages include a lack of specific technical competencies (hard skills) required for a particular role, and a lack of applicants.

That is the highest proportion of employers expressing concern about talent shortages since 2007. However, the uptick might be viewed as an encouraging sign, indicating that more employers recognize the need to fill key roles. The top five jobs employers are having difficulty filling are skilled trade workers, engineers, sales reps, technicians, and accounting and finance staff.


More specifically, employers in the Americas report having the most difficulty filling technician posts—those requiring professional qualifications and skilled trades experience. The hardest-to-fill vacancies in Asia Pacific are for sales representatives. Asia Pacific employers cite a simple lack of available candidates as their most pressing challenge.

Europe, the Middle East, and Africa report the greatest difficulty in sourcing skilled trades talent. And employers in Japan, Brazil, India, Turkey, and Hong Kong report the most acute talent shortages.

The method employers most likely will use to alleviate the talent shortages is to train and develop existing staff to meet their needs. Survey respondents also report that their organizations are increasing their focus on the talent pipeline and seeking to source talent outside established talent pools.

About the Author

Lisa Marsh is associate editor of The Public Manager, ASTD’s quarterly journal for government leaders at all levels. She is pretty happy at work. As a publications consultant and editor for more than 25 years, she has seen a variety of workplaces and likes to focus on best practices.

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