Wanted: Problem-Solving and Communications Skills

Here’s more evidence that it’s difficult to find qualified workers even with unemployment near 9 percent.

First, more than half of organizations are having a tough time filling engineering, high-skilled medical, technical and executive positions, according to the latest monthly poll by the Society for Human Resource Management.

Meanwhile, a separate poll of 2,280 HR professionals found that high-tech companies (71 percent) and manufacturers (68 percent) were struggling more than financial firms (49 percent) at finding new employees. Professional services (59 percent) and construction, mining, oil and gas companies (51 percent) reported a harder time finding suitable workers than state and local governments (33 percent) and the federal government (31 percent).

So what’s keeping employers from filling jobs with unemployed workers? “Our research shows that gaps between unemployed American workers’ skills and those required for open jobs in the United States are a major reason for this seemingly unlikely contradiction,” said Mark Schmit, vice president for research at SHRM.

The top four skills gaps were: critical thinking/problem-solving (with 54 percent of those respondents saying that job applicants typically lack that skill); professionalism/work ethic (44 percent); written communication (41 percent); and leadership (39 percent). In lower-skilled positions, the gaps include basic English skills like writing and reading comprehension as well as math.

While recession increased unemployment, it failed to flood the market with qualified workers. And hiring is bound to get more difficult as baby boomers exit the workplace and companies snap up the best candidates from the unemployment pool.

Image Credit: Shutterstock

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