Talent shortage: Employers report increasing difficulty finding the workers they need

Peter Harris|

Companies are struggling to find the candidates they need to accomplish their goals, and the lack of skilled workers is taking its toll on the performance of organizations around the world. The shortage of talent is apparently growing more acute and taking a greater toll on productivity, according to ManpowerGroup’s annual Talent Shortage Survey released this morning.

The survey found that 35% percent of the nearly 40,000 employers surveyed globally say that they are having difficulties finding staff with the right skills. This is the greatest shortage reported since the start of the recession in 2008.

Of those, more than half (54%) of employers believe this will have a high or medium impact on their ability to meet client needs. This is well up from the 42% who said the same in 2012.

As in 2012, skilled trades jobs continue to be the hardest to fill at a global level, followed by engineering roles and sales representative jobs. In North America, technicians, engineers and sales reps are the most in-demand positions – with skilled trades coming in fourth.

Labour shortages are apparently at a six-year high in this country as well. 34% of Canadian employers surveyed report struggling to find candidates with the right skills. Candidates lacking necessary technical skills to do the job (33%) and a general lack of sufficient applicants (31%) are the two main reasons that employers in the Americas gave for their current talent shortages. The lack of hard skills was particularly felt by employers looking to hire skilled trades workers.

24% of employers said that it was a lack of experienced workers available that was causing their hiring hardship. A further 16% of employers reported finding a lack of candidates with the right soft skills. The soft skills that are most in demand are apparently candidates who can display enthusiasm and motivation for the job. A Workopolis survey of Canadian employers found similar results – with a positive attitude and strong work ethic being two soft skills companies struggle to find in new hires.

Here’s a look at the fields seeing the most serious labour shortages globally and in the western hemisphere.

The top 10 jobs employers in ‘The Americas’ are having difficulty filling:

1. Technicians

2. Sales representatives

3. Engineers

4. Skilled trades workers

5. Production operators

6. Accounting and finance staff

7. Secretaries, Pas, administrative assistants and office support staff

8. Drivers

9. Labourers

10. Management executives

The top 10 jobs employers are having trouble filling globally

1. Skilled Trade Workers

2. Engineers

3. Sales Representatives

4. Technicians

5. Accounting & Finance Staff

6. Management/Executives

7. IT Staff

8. Drivers

9. Secretaries, PAs, Administrative Assistants & Office Support Staff

10. Laborers

Of the employers who report talent shortages in this part of the world, 19% said that it is having a high impact on their ability to meet client needs, with another 33% reporting a medium level of impact.

Only around one in eight (just 13%) believe talent shortages are having no current impact on their ability to be productive.

You can download the full Talent Shortage Results Report here.


- Peter Harris

Peter Harris on Twitter

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  • Geof Stock

    Very interesting. I am an Engineer, if you have any suggestions.
    I can provide a resume and cover letter if you like?

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  • Barry

    They are having trouble filling these positions with people who have 10 years experience and will work for minimum wage. That part is silent.
    Being qualified to work in two of the mentioned fields, getting an interview is about as likely as winning the lottery, so much for labour shortages…
    Hurry up mr harper, get rid of minimum wage and give more corporate welfare so we can all be homeless faster (i mean employed with million dollar bonuses)

  • RepentSinnerTheEndIsNigh

    Ottawa is full of ex BNR/Nortel engineers who gave up working in IT years ago because the employers were too busy filling out forms to look at skills and aptitudes. In many cases employers are too focussed youth and conformity to behavioral norms common among Human Resources professionals. In many cases Government wouldn’t look at people because they were so far behind the curve that they didn’t understand the resumes of the most talented people in the country.

  • Get real

    This is putrid garbage. Last year I passed a course in network engineering and I have A+ certification. So far, not even one interview.

    What they want is years of experience, reams of training and willing to work for close to nothing. This is why rich multinationals do their recruiting offshore. The rich, aided and abetted by politicians that are among the best money can buy, have laws passed that only they can access.

    Canada has paid bilions to companies that take the so-called job creation money, pay huge executive bonuses and then shut down and move offshore.

    They want the money, give it to them as a rewar for people they’ve hired using parameters such as length of employment and rate of pay for position. Insentives don’t work.

  • Brian

    Many companies look for that “perfect” employee, you know, the one with a doctorate in 2 or more fields, has 30 years experience and is only 35 years old. An exaggeration yes, but they need to take more chances. People want (need) to work… pick the right employee, not the perfect one.

    • Reader2212

      you forgot “and willing to work for 10$ per hour with no benefits”

  • nick

    Employers can’t find labourers (or laborers) – really ? Do they require a doctorate in shovel management or something ?

  • Ryely Love

    supposedly more foreign engineers and immigrated workers are filling the spots at IT and other jobs as a technician/mechanic unfortunately to save company money. wondering how it would go underway with the program for students at universities that are basically supposed to transfer right out of there into a new job?

  • atlanticcanadian

    Where in Canada are the labour shortages for Secretaries, Pas, administrative assistants and office support staff

  • Reader2212

    IT Staff? Globally? don’t make me laugh. been in the field 25 years and the last 10 have been nothing but drought. lots of good IT people around but no jobs. All the jobs went to india and china. What there is however is a shortage of highly qualified people who are willing to work for minimum wages. Correct the wage problem and you will see no shortage of skill.

    • Mike

      right on reader2212

      not only are they going to those country’s but they are coming here and taking jobs , i know and have worked at bombardier and the contractors are gobbling jobs especially from France and India and China
      how was this allowed to Happend when did Canada become for sale

      • Reader2212

        started with Mulroney and has accelerated with harper. Its all about increasing executive compensation and bonuses but the only way to do this is to reduce labour wages to a pittance. Make people beg for work and you can take advantage of them . if the third world has taught me anything…. if you starve a man long enough you can get him to work a full day for a bowl of rice

  • K William

    I can say I don’t agree with most of the list. From my experience, there’s a surplus in most of them. The only ones I can agree with is the “dirty work” or “less desirable” jobs such as drivers, trades-work , and sometimes technicians.
    I can severely disagree with #9. The company I worked at put out a posting for an admin role on Indeed, and believe it or not, we got back 3-4 pages of emails within the first day.

  • Fernando Hesus Dos Santos

    I do not totally agree with this report and point of view. Previously companies look for talent worker and accepted to do all the paper work required and the age of the capable worker was not a problem, now there is a lot of pressure of wanting to hire Jong, on experienced, no technical skill, with no international experience workers. Every decision on employees’ skill and talent is directed to cost and not on the investment or potential results, normally talent people no matter their age does not only improve financial productivity by generating more profit, but also improve the not skilled employee’s knowledge with experience on job training. But the companies do not look at the tradeoff; they only want to stay within a budget and do not see the total effect and picture of the results. The budget is a financial planning benchmark that you have to exceed by controlling and administrating all positive and negative pressures, to get the end results expected and planed exceeding the benchmark, it does not matter if the employees are making more wages nor their age, what counts is the continuous improved results. As I see it management has to be more talent and dynamic now a day to compete. Request all those companies that have this kind of problem to find talent employees to please contact me and I promise to solve their problem within 6 months, and they can get my CIOR agreement to pay based on results. Please send this comment report also to those companies on WW scale.
    Thank you and best regards
    Fernando H. Dos Santos Josefa.

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