We’ve all heard of that old adage, "there’s plenty of fish in the sea", but what if none of those fish have what you need? Have you ever found yourself with a job opening, hundreds of resumes at your fingertips, but not one candidate with the skills required for the position? Many companies struggle with that same issue and it’s not just those in need of STEM (science, technology, education, and math) skilled people either. Companies are seeing a dramatic deficiency in candidates equipped with basic skills such as written and verbal communication and advanced leadership. According to Ed Gordon, author of “Winning the Global Talent Showdown” and the upcoming “Future Jobs: Solving the Employment and Skills Crisis,” if we do not address the skills gap, our country has the potential to see 14 million to 25 million vacant jobs by 2020 that we won’t be able to fill.
So what skills are U.S. workers lacking? In late 2012, SHRM surveyed more than 3,400 HR professionals randomly chosen from the Society’s membership, and asked them to name the most common skills gaps they encounter when recruiting for a position. The respondents noted that critical thinking/problem-solving (53 percent), professionalism/work ethic (46 percent), written communications (41 percent) and leadership (38 percent) were the most common applied skills job applicants lacked. They also stated that writing in English (55 percent), math (38 percent), reading comprehension (31 percent), and speaking in English (29 percent) were the most common gaps in basic skills. And the high-skilled positions they found most difficult to fill were Scientists (88 percent), Engineers (86 percent), Technicians and programmers (85 percent), High-skilled medical (for example, nurses, doctors, specialists) (83 percent), and Managers and executives (77 percent).
What can you do to help find that qualified individual?
No matter the number of fish in the sea, if you don’t first identify what you need, your chances of reeling in the right one is slim to none. Know what skills you need, the skills your current employees possess and lack, what skills you may lose due to retirement or resignation, and design a plan that will not only address the skills gap today, but one that will also keep that gap from widening once again.