Industry Market Trends

Skilled Trades Top Most Difficult Jobs to Fill in 2013 in Talent Shortage Survey

May 29, 2013

While fewer U.S. employers are having difficulty finding workers with the right skills than in 2012, companies worldwide are having the most difficulty finding talent for jobs since the start of the recession, according to a new survey by Manpower Group. The research results reveal the top 10 most difficult jobs to fill, with skilled trades positions topping the list in the U.S. and on a global level.

Manpower Group's eighth annual Talent Shortage Survey, based on the responses of nearly 40,000 employers in 42 countries, indicates that across the globe, the skilled trades worker shortage is a persistent problem. Skilled trades positions have been the most difficult jobs to fill on a global level in five of the past six years. Engineers are also on the top 10 list of most difficult jobs to fill globally and in the U.S.

Reasons for the talent shortage vary widely. On a global level, 33 percent of employers (one in three) said that a lack of technical or "hard skills" is at the root of the talent dearth, and 31 percent indicated that there was a lack of applicants (down from 36 percent in 2012). Candidates that lack experience was a chief concern for 24 percent of employers this year, compared with 31 percent last year. A small percentage of employers (16 percent) also said that they had difficulty finding candidates with the right "soft skills" - such as "enthusiasm" and "motivation."

These percentages spiked for the 1,000 U.S. employers surveyed, with almost half (48 percent) indicating that candidates lack the technical knowledge or hard skills, 32 percent saying there is a lack of available candidates, and 33 percent reporting that applicants lack soft skills.

Top 10 Most Difficult Jobs for Employers to Fill Worldwide in 2013

1)     Skilled Trades

2)      Engineers

3)      Sales Representatives

4)      Technicians

5)      Accounting & Finance Staff

6)      Management/Executives

7)      IT Staff

8)      Drivers

9)      Secretaries, PAs, Administrative Assistants & Office Support Staff

10)     Laborers

Top 10 Most Difficult Jobs to Fill in the U.S. in 2013

1)      Skilled Trades

2)      Sales Representatives

3)      Drivers

4)      IT Staff

5)      Accounting & Finance Staff

6)      Engineers

7)      Technicians

8)      Management Executives

9)      Mechanics

10)    Teachers


How Employers Weigh the Talent Shortage

Since last year, the proportion of employers on a global basis that reported talent shortages impacting their client-facing abilities has grown. While 13 percent of employers in 2012 said that talent shortages impacted their business at a "high level," that proportion climbed to 19 percent in 2013. This year, more employers (35 percent) indicated that the talent shortage is having a "medium impact" on their business than last year (29 percent). In the U.S., nearly half of employers said that talent shortages impact their ability to run their business to meet the needs of customers.

That more hiring managers are recognizing the toll of the talent shortage may be a positive sign, as employers then prepare for solutions to reverse the talent shortage in the U.S. and worldwide.


What Employers Are Doing to Reverse It

Worldwide, employers are taking a proactive approach in addressing the talent shortage, with 46 percent of employers focusing on changing their "people practice," from redefining job descriptions, enhancing benefits, and redefining qualifying criteria "to include individuals who lack some required skills but have the potential to acquire them." Yet while a good percentage of employers across the globe are focused on changing their people practices, one in five (22 percent) of hiring managers admit that "they are pursuing no current strategy to deal with the skills gap."

U.S. employers are tackling the talent shortage by expanding training and development for existing staff (23 percent), recruiting from "untapped talent pools" (20 percent), and hiring people who have the potential to learn skills and grow in their position.

"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," according to Manpower Group's president, Jonas Prising, in a statement.

"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."