Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Why Can't We Fill Open Jobs?

After watching my Atlanta Falcons lose their first game this season on Sunday, I watched an interesting segment on 60 Minutes.  (click the link and you can watch the segment) One of the stories discussed was the fact that in the US we have approximately 3 million jobs available.  If you talk to anyone that has been half awake these last few years, you hear how high the unemployment rate is and how there are no jobs to be found.

That is simply not the case.

After talking with my colleagues Ed Nangle and Charlette Stout about the program, we determined you have to look at the situation from two perspectives.  One is that, yes there is job loss due to the economy but there is ALSO a talent shortage.

In the 60 Minutes piece, a manager in a manufacturing plant was interviewed about not being able to find good quality technical talent.  He said young people are coming out of schools WITHOUT the basics of grammar, spelling, math and problem solving skills.  This particular company's solution was to partner with the local technical college on curriculum and train the individuals that had been pre-tested for aptitude.  In other words they are "growing their own."

I will argue that our skills problem in this country is bigger than our jobs problem at this point.

Being in education part-time myself, I understand some of the many issues about delivering what businesses need in terms of skill sets.  I wish I knew the answer to whose job is it to prepare individuals to be job ready.  According to many, it's parents and the educational system, not the job of corporate America.

I believe this issue of talent will be critical in the next few years as Boomers will be retiring in droves.  The newer generations just don't have enough people to fill the slots.  The math just isn't there.

So if PEOPLE are truly your competitive advantage what are savvy HR leaders to do?
  • I like the idea of the manufacturing firm that partnered with higher education to customize curriculum, that guarantees the skills you need will be taught.  I have seen that first hand at Kennesaw State College where they partner with WellStar to develop content for Billing coders and nurse techs.  
  • HR leaders need to look at the workforce data and project supply and demand of talent for at least the next five years.  Create an action plan based on the data on how talent will be sourced and trained.
  • KEEP the talent you have.  It's too hard and expensive to replace it.  
  • Analyze the work that needs to be done and the way it CAN be done.  Can you use part-timers, can you use job sharing?  Get creative.
  • What is your organization's training philosophy?  Is it used as an attraction and retention tool?  It may be cheaper to train versus hiring a replacement.
  • Can you offer a benefit your competitors do not, like offering healthcare to part-timers.  (understanding healthcare is changing as we speak)
What else should be considered?  How can we prepare ourselves for the looming talent shortage?

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