Survey Finds Skilled Talent Shortages Continue Both in U.S. and Globally

No matter how prosperous or uncertain the environment, talent is always tough to find.

ManpowerGroup’s 8th annual Talent Shortage Survey reveals that employers worldwide continue to report that a lack of skilled talent and a struggle to fill vacancies negatively impacts their business performance.

ManpowerGroup surveyed nearly 40,000 employers in 42 countries and territories, including more than 1,000 U.S. employers. Some 39 percent of U.S. employers continue to have difficulty finding people with the right skills. While that’s down from last year’s 49 percent, it still exceeds the global average of 35 percent — the highest since the start of the recession.

Hardest to fill jobs in the U.S.

U.S. employers report that skilled trades positions are the most difficult to fill, the fourth straight year that’s topped the list.

Here’s the entire top 10:

  1. Skilled trades;
  2. Sales reps;
  3. Drivers;
  4. IT staff;
  5. Accounting & finance staff;
  6. Engineers;
  7. Technicians;
  8. Management/Execs;
  9. Mechanics;
  10. Teachers.

The most common reasons cited for the difficulty in finding the right talent include:

  • A lack of technical competencies (48 percent);
  • Lack of workplace competencies/soft skills (33 percent); and,
  • Lack of/no available candidates (32 percent).

Global results

Globally, the three most challenging areas are Skilled trades, Engineers and Sales representatives. The reasons most often cited are lack of applicants and lack of technical skills.

Employers are having the most difficulty in Japan (85 percent), Brazil (68 percent), India (61 percent), Turkey (58 percent) and Hong Kong (58 percent).

What are employers doing?

Survey participants acknowledge they’re taking steps to overcome talent shortages by implementing new people practices, modifying work models and sourcing talent differently.

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Among the most popular approaches are:

  1. Expanding training and development (23 percent);
  2. Recruiting more from untapped talent pools (20 percent); and,
  3. Hiring a candidate who may lack the skills today but has the potential to grow into the job.

What it all means

“Our survey results demonstrate that U.S. employers have awakened to the realities of the talent shortage and are implementing innovative strategies to work through the business challenges it brings,” said Jonas Prising, ManpowerGroup President.

“However, year after year, we see little difference in the roles employers have trouble filling. As talent shortages in key areas persist, we need to focus on training programs that create opportunity for employers to fill their talent gaps, and for job seekers to obtain an in-demand skill and achieve employment security.”

ManpowerGroup has released a new insight paper, entitled The Great Talent Shortage Awakening: Actions to Take for a Sustainable Workforce. It examines strategies HR leaders can pursue to fuel their organization’s competitiveness for years to come.

For more on the 2013 Talent Shortage Survey, click here.

This was originally published on Manpower Group’s Employment Blawg.

Mark Toth has served as Manpower Group North America's Chief Legal Officer since 2000. He also serves on the company’s Global Leadership Team, Global Legal Lead Team and North American Lead Team. Mark is recognized as an expert on legal issues affecting the U.S. workplace and is frequently quoted in media from The Wall Street Journal to 60 Minutes. He is also a past Chair of the American Staffing Association and is a certified Senior Professional in Human Resources. Contact him at