Lots of Jobs, Lack of Skilled Workers: What This Means For You

As a recruiter, you’re on the front line of hiring market news—so it shouldn’t be surprising to you that there are currently plenty of hard-to-fill job opportunities in the United States. While candidates have an abundance of jobs to choose from, three industries in particular demonstrated significant year-over-year workforce increases (as of December 2018) according to Linkedin’s January Workforce Report: software & IT services, corporate services and agriculture.

Linkedin’s report also states that technological skills—such as software development and data science—have gained importance in the largest United States metro areas over the last three years. In addition, employers are placing a growing importance on business skills (strategy, vendor management and change management) in traditional finance hubs such as New York, Chicago, Boston and Philadelphia.

Meanwhile, more than half of Americans (54%) agree that employable adults aren’t working today because they don’t have the skills they need for the jobs that they want. Even though there’s plenty of job opportunities, many Americans feel that they’re lacking the necessary requirements to actually pursue them.

Why is there a skills gap?

In fast-paced industries where companies thrive on continuous innovation, there’s often not enough candidates with specialized skills to meet the employers’ rapidly growing needs. This is known as a skills gap.

In their research article, the American Staffing Association reported that people felt both the education system and their employers failed to provide them with opportunities to learn important skills. Americans shared their opinions on the factors most responsible for the skills gap:

  • 3 out of 4 of them say schools fail to provide adequate education for 21st century jobs
  • 6 out of 10 of them say employers are responsible for the skills gap challenge—they say they don’t provide training, offer apprenticeship programs, and hold unrealistic expectations of candidates’ skills
  • 9 out of 10 of them say they feel responsible for their own skills gaps. They believe they should keep updating their skills for the ever-changing work environment

What does this mean for recruiters?

Even if the skills gap has yet to affect your business, it’s important you prepare for the likelihood that you will feel its ripple. You may soon find yourself working with clients who have hard-to-fill roles due to a shortage of qualified candidates. Specialized roles could remain unfilled for longer than desired times, and you might wind up taking the blame for it.

If this happens, you’ll have to tap into a valuable but often overlooked talent pool: passive candidates. While many passive candidates are comfortable and secure in their positions, it doesn’t mean they’re not opposed to making a move in their careers. If they’re given the right strategic guidance, they might consider a new opportunity.

To start your hunt for passive candidates, turn to your applicant tracking system to identify the most qualified individuals. An applicant tracking system that uses AI to provide you with a list of best-matched talent is a must-have tool in a candidate-driven market.

Since many people feel that employers have unreasonable expectations of candidates’ skills, work with your clients to create realistic job descriptions. Rather than writing a job posting with tons of required skills and qualifications, pair it down to the core skills that someone must have to succeed in the role.

Be more flexible

While it’s ideal to come across a candidate who fits the bill perfectly, don’t overlook candidates who are genuinely open to learning and advancing their skills—they could be invaluable employees, as long as you give them a chance.

Strike the perfect balance by being open to candidates who are enthusiastic about developing their skills, and encourage your clients to support their employees’ desire to improve their skillset.