The Search for Qualified Workers: Ironies of a Jobs and People Shortage
Even though the Great Recession has long been officially over, job growth in our region remains relatively slow. As a result, the case can certainly be made that there are "not enough jobs" for those who want them. However, a different trend - an unprecedented one - sees participation in the labor force dropping substantially. This suggests that in a decent economy, there might in fact be "not enough workers". To underscore this, at the current time, when there are few job openings and high levels of unemployment, businesses report that they are having difficulty finding qualified and skilled workers, and a lack of interested job applicants in general.
We too are seeing somewhat of an alarming and, so far, unexplainable trend of job applicant apathy. We are currently seeing the interest level in jobs that we would historically, and literally, see people line up for (even when the unemployment rate was around 5%), now generate little if any candidate response from normal recruiting methods.This is during a time where the unemployment hovering at 8% - 12%. Can this 8% level now translate to "full employment?" Let's hope not!
In search of finding an explanation for this curious short labor market, I stumbled across a somewhat dated but still relevant article produced by Graham Slater, the Oregon Employment Department's Research Administrator, as he shares data and insights on these trends. What's interesting to me is that the points he raises in June of this year using data from the last several years seem to be more reliable now than they were at the time he published his article.
Ok......so what is the solution? Even though the speculated cause or reason for this current shortage may be new to us, our recruiters are not new to the challenge.
We have proactively broadened our recruiting reach through all social media, and traditional recruiting to make sure we are getting our client's job opportunities out to qualified and interested candidates. Our recruiters are not only targeting the unemployed, but actively soliciting candidates working in related industries with transferrable, or promotable skill sets. Our clients are also analyzing and adjusting their offerings in terms of wage levels, shift schedules and other amenities that make them attractive to the workforce.
As a senior recruiter recently shared, "At an 8% unemployment rate, we know the people are out there, we just have work smarter at not only getting the word to them but getting them interested in what we have to offer."
If you have insights on this issue or are experiencing similar / different results from your recruiting efforts, I would love to hear from you. Just shoot me a note firstname.lastname@example.org