Hardest Jobs to Fill Survey: It’s Still Engineers, IT, and the Skilled Trades

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It’s one of the defining issues of our current economic climate: despite a national unemployment rate of 8 percent, it’s still tough for many companies to find workers with the right skills for jobs they are trying to fill.

In case that fact isn’t entirely visible to you and your organization, Manpower’s Seventh Annual Talent Shortage Survey makes that fact perfectly clear.

According to the survey, nearly half (49 percent) of U.S. employers are experiencing difficulty filling “mission-critical positions within their organizations.” Although this is down slightly from the 52 percent of employers who said they were struggling in this regard in 2011, it’s much worse in the U.S. than in other parts of the world where a significantly lower 34 percent of employers say they are having difficulty filling positions.

The 10 hardest jobs to fill

The Manpower survey of more than 1,300 U.S. employers found the most difficult positions to fill include (not surprisingly) skilled trades, engineers and IT staff, all of which have appeared multiple times since the Manpower survey began in 2006.

In the U.S., the 10 hardest jobs to fill according to Manpower’s Talent Shortage Survey are:

  1. Skilled trades (was also No. 1 in 2011)
  2. Engineers
  3. IT staff
  4. Sales representatives
  5. Accounting & finance staff
  6. Drivers
  7. Mechanics
  8. Nurses
  9. Machinists/machine operators
  10. Teachers

A skills mismatch

“Based on the many conversations we have with employers every day, Manpower Group recognizes the ongoing challenge business leaders face when looking for the right talent,” said Jonas Prising, Manpower Group president of the Americas, in a press release about the annual survey.

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“This skills mismatch has major ramifications on employment and business success in the U.S. and around the globe. Wise corporate leaders are doing something about it, and we increasingly see that they’re developing workforce strategies and partnerships with local educational institutions to train their next generation of workers.”

Here’s what is interesting (or frightening, depending on your point of view) about this Manpower Group survey: It shows that despite the fact that the world and particularly the U.S.)  continues to struggle with the talent mismatch, “a substantial proportion of employers indicate unfilled positions are expected to have little or no impact on key constituents, such as customers and investors. This proportion has grown considerably worldwide from 36 percent in 2011 to 56 percent in 2012.”

In other words, despite the lack of the specific talent organizations need to fill jobs they need filled, they don’t view that as any big deal.

“We’re seeing too many employers become complacent about the talent shortage and ultimately they will struggle to realize their business objectives<” says Manpower’s Prising. “Our advice to employers of all sizes is to align their workforce strategy with their business strategy to anticipate talent needs for today and for tomorrow. If done successfully, a winning workforce strategy can separate thriving market leaders from surviving competitors.”

John Hollon is managing editor of Fuel50, an AI Opportunity Marketplace solution that delivers internal talent mobility and workforce reskilling. He's also the former founding editor of TLNT and a frequent contributor to ERE and the Fistful of Talent blog.