Where’s the talent?

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The UK’s talent crisis has deepened, with employers having more difficulty filling vacant positions than at any time since 2007. According to a Manpower survey published today, more than half of businesses globally say unfilled positions are having an impact on customers and investors.

One in six UK employers is finding it difficult to fill critical positions, compared to one in 11 last year, despite ONS figures released yesterday showing 2.46 million people unemployed. Engineering jobs are the most difficult to fill.

However, employers are not addressing the root of the talent mismatch, the survey finds. Only 12% of UK employers are providing additional learning and development to internal talent, to enable them to move into hard-to-fill positions. This compares to 21% internationally.

The Manpower Group sixth annual Talent Shortage Survey researched nearly 40,000 employers across 39 countries in the first quarter of 2011. Across the world, three-quarters of employers cite a lack of experience, skills or knowledge as the primary reason for difficulty filling positions. Technicians, sales representatives and skilled-trades workers are the hardest-to-fill roles globally.

Counter-intuitively, employers in India, the US, China and Germany report the most dramatic talent shortage surges, compared to last year. In India, the percentage of employers indicating difficulty filling positions jumped 51 percentage points.

Manpower UK managing director Mark Cahill said companies would be in for a rude awakening when the labour market tightens.

“The recession, and now this slow recovery, have made the talent mismatch in the UK even more stark. Many organisations that have previously cut their headcounts are finding that they need to increase their workforce in an increasingly talent-hungry market,” he said.

“Though the UK suffers less than other countries, there is no doubt that globally we are heading towards an employability crisis,” Cahill added.

A fifth of employers believe that, when positions are not filled in a timely way, this has a high impact on key stakeholders, while 37% believe it has a medium impact. However, 11% say there is no impact and 7% say they do not know what the impact is.

Just 6% of employers are working closely with educational institutions to create curriculums to close knowledge gaps and only 20% are concentrating on learning and development to fill the shortage.

“We need to see more companies ‘manufacturing’ the talent they need in order to support their long-term business strategy. This requires a fundamental shift in the way companies structure and organise their workforce, develop their people and incentivise talent,” said Cahill.

UK’s top 10 most difficult job to fill in 2011

1 Engineers

2 Chefs/cooks

3 Management/executive

4 Sales representatives

5 Drivers

6 Technicians

7 Skilled trades

8 Teachers

9 Accounting and finance staff

10 IT staff

Source: Manpower Group, Sixth Annual Talent Shortage Survey

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