Even with the unemployment rate in the U.S. stuck stubbornly around 8 percent, an astounding 49 percent of firms in the country cannot find enough skilled workers to fill their available positions. This surprising figure has led many to conclude there in a job skills shortage in the United States and that alleviating that shortage is a key to righting the economy. It is crucial that employers gain an understanding of the reasons behind the lack of qualified workers. Only then can they take steps to ensure that this shortage is minimized and unemployment rates can begin to fall.
One of the most common explanations of the U.S. skills shortage is a decline in American education.
But there are a number of other possible causes, none of which can be dismissed out of turn. These explanations include:
- Jobs are being sent offshore
- Companies are not skilled at hiring employees
- The issues are regional in nature
- Technology is changing the employment landscape.
Any of these, and perhaps all of them, may play a role in the skills shortage in the U.S., but the facts in each case need to be gathered and analyzed in detail. For instance, technology may not have any bearing on the discrepancy since a number of the top skill sets required in the workforce, such as drivers and sales representatives, do not require technological skills of any kind. Also, not all of the skill sets require a college education, but training is required in each.
Not everyone sees this problem. In a Washington Monthly article, “There’s not really a skills shortage,” Danial Luzer points to an argument made by Matthew O’Brien, who states that if there were a shortage in certain sectors, then wages would be increasing accordingly in those sectors. This evidently is not happening, with 54 percent of employers saying workers want to be paid more than the offered wage.
But most observers do see a skills shortage, and it seems to be a result of the silos in which the economy’s business and educational sectors function. That’s why the business community must begin communicating with educational institutions in order to convey the skill sets they need in order to fill the positions they have available.
Employers and business leaders interested in learning more about the skills shortage can register for a complimentary webinar hosted by RiseSmart and John Sumser, founder and CEO of HR Examiner and HrxAnalysts, at: http://go.risesmart.com/JohnSumserWebinar_registration.html.