More employers having difficulty recruiting for highly skilled jobs: SHRM

One-half say job applicants lacking critical thinking, problem-solving skills

Two-thirds (66 per cent) of organizations in the United States that are hiring full-time workers said they are having a difficult time recruiting for specific job openings — a marked increase from 52 per cent in 2011, according to a poll from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).

Difficulty in filling specific jobs varies by industry. But overall, the most difficult positions to fill are highly skilled positions such as scientists, engineers, high-skilled technical (technicians and programmers) and high-skilled medical (nurses, doctors, specialists), found the poll of 3,400 HR professionals in the U.S.

“Attracting highly skilled candidates in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics presents a significant talent-management challenge for employers today,” said Alexander Alonso, vice president for research at SHRM. “This is magnified by the ongoing recession during which companies shifted to technologies for efficiency and now require skilled professionals to support those technologies.”

A lack of relevant qualifications and competition for talent is causing difficulty with recruitment, found the survey. Almost one-half (48 per cent) of organizations said that candidates don’t have the right skills for the job, and 40 per cent said candidates don’t have the right work experience.

HR professionals continue to report gaps in basic knowledge and skills in job applicants. Critical thinking and problem solving remains the top skill gap with 53 per cent of respondents saying that job applicants typically lack that skill. It is followed by professionalism and work ethic (46 per cent), written communication (41 per cent) and leadership (38 per cent).

The most common gaps in basic knowledge are writing in English (reported by 55 per cent of respondents), mathematics (38 per cent) and reading comprehension (31 per cent).

The research also explored technology changes and what impact they have on employee skills. Thirty per cent of organizations said they made major changes in the use of technology that impacted the work of employees in the last year, and 10 per cent said they planned to in the next 12 months. Of those respondents, 72 per cent said these technological changes would require new skills of employees, although not the addition of new staff.

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