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Jeff Joerres, Manpower: Global Shortage of High Skilled Workers

Elizabeth Lee

November 3, 2011

More than half of U.S. employers report having a hard time finding people to fill some of their most critical positions. Quite a few countries around the world are experiencing the same problem, according to a global survey by international employment agency, ManpowerGroup.

Getting on the Internet and looking for work has become DeBorah Pryor’s daily routine. She hasn’t had a stable, full time job since 2008. “It’s extremely frustrating it has brought me to tears sometimes," she said.

In the last three years, Pryor had gone back to the university and finished her degree. She’s even started her own communications company to make ends meet. But she’s looking for something more permanent. After spending countless hours on on-line job applications there has been no reward. “You get an automated response that says that the employer has received your package and then you hear nothing so as if your resume has gone into this vortex, this abyss," she said.

Jeff Joerres, Chairman and Chief Executive of the employment agency, ManpowerGroup says employers are now looking for very specific and often highly technical skill sets. "A large number of people that have been out of work for two years and in some cases more than two years during that time, the businesses has gone through a lot of changes," he said.

Some of the changes include upgrades in technology, changes in job requirements and added skills for a position. That’s why even with a high unemployment rate in many countries, companies still have trouble finding workers.

Employment agency, Manpower’s Regional Director in Los Angeles, Janelle Etchepare says training for new skills will help make an applicant more attractive to an employer. “The ones that have kept up with their education so to speak and have kept up with technology are the ones that are very easy to continue to place," she said.

But not enough job applicants are keeping up with the changes in technology and job requirements. According to this year’s ManpowerGroup survey of 39 countries, 34 percent of employers worldwide say they have trouble finding qualified workers. While 52% percent of U.S. employers have the same problem filling critical positions, Japan, India and Brazil have the most difficult time.

ManpowerGroup's Jeff Joerres said, “We always think of India as having a plethra of people when in fact so many companies have moved there. Their own economy is moving along nicely that they’ve now picked up to where it’s very difficult to find the qualified people that that they need.”

The hardest jobs to fill are technicians, skilled trades, sales representatives that require highly technical knowledge.

Jatan Shah, Chief Technology Office of QSC Audio says his company has been expanding and hiring. But he says finding the right worker for positions from engineers to plant workers has been a challenge. “It takes anywhere from three months to a year to fill certain positions. Yeah at times it’s frustrating you would think that when you have positions open, you have people applying from everywhere which is true you get a lot of resumes but you’re trying to find the right person for the right job," he said.

Manpower’s Jeff Joerres says, when companies can’t find the right fit, the positions often remain unfilled, which could effect the employer’s revenue. In the U.S. he says some companies are doing something out of the ordinary: “We’re finding that companies are actually willing to move their location to where the talent is which is highly unusual," he said.

He says some employers are hiring people who can learn quickly and training them for the job.

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