Update: Global Employability Crisis Persists

Global Employability Crisis Persists, http://www.worldatwork.org

May 31, 2012 — One in three employers (34%) globally are reporting difficulty in filling jobs due to lack of available talent, according to the results of ManpowerGroup’s 7th annual “Talent Shortage Survey.” This year’s data shows the crisis’ deeper effect, as 56% of employers indicate that unfilled positions are expected to have little or no impact on constituents, such as customers and investors, an increase from 36% in 2011. “Talent shortages are endemic but employers have gotten used to doing more with less and hesitate to hire until they see demand and can find talent with the specific skills they need,” said Jeffrey A. Joerres, ManpowerGroup chairman and CEO. “Surprisingly, employers are now less concerned about the impact of these shortages on customers and investors, a perspective which signals acceptance of the new normal.”

However, Joerres cautioned that employers should not presume that stakeholders will continue to look past shortcomings in service and performance as a result of lean structures. “Leaving positions unfilled may be a short-term fix, but it’s short-sighted and unsustainable approach to addressing talent shortages in the Human Age, when ‘talentism,’ the new capitalism, is valued as the driver of business success. Employers must find solutions to help them address shortages and close specific skills gaps, such as investing in training and partnering with educators,” he said.

Among the most common reasons employers say they can’t fill roles is simply a lack of applicants, an increase from 24% last year to 33% in 2012. An equal percentage named “lack of technical competencies/hard skills” — in particular the lack of industry-specific qualifications in both professional and skilled trade categories — up from 22% in 2011.

However, employers that are sufficiently concerned about the ongoing levels of talent shortages are becoming slightly more proactive about closing the skills gap. One in four employers are not seeking to address talent shortages by providing training and development for existing staff and more employers are hiring individuals without all the prerequisite job skills, but have the potential to learn and grow into the specific job role.

The increase in employer-sponsored training reflects that positions are changing rapidly, demanding new levels of sophistication, knowledge and skills and requiring employees to adopt a continuous learning mindset to keep their skills current. Training helps address the crisis by improving skills of current staff and promoting staff who demonstrate the potential to grow and develop, particularly among those employers that report that talent shortages are having a high impact on their business. The hardest jobs to fill globally are skilled trade workers, engineers and sales representatives, according to the survey of nearly 40,000 employers across 41 countries and territories. Skilled trades and engineers have become harder to find since 2011, as demand outstrips supply. Sales representatives’ continued presence in the top 10 is a result of companies continuing to seek experience salespeople who can help drive revenue growth.

Jobs Most in Demand in 2012

1. Skilled trade workers

2. Engineers

3. Sales representatives

4. Technicians

5. Drivers

6. Laborers

7. IT staff

8. Accounting and finance staff

9. Chefs/cooks

10. Management/executives

Jobs Most in Demand in 2011

1. Technicians

2. Sales representatives

3. Skilled trade workers

4. Engineers

5. Laborers

6. Management/executives

7. Accounting and finance staff

8. IT staff

9. Production operators

10. Secretaries, Pas, admin assistants and office support staff

Talent supply and demand issues generally are more acute in the Asia-Pacific and Americas regions than in the EMEA. Globally, employers having the most difficulty finding the right people to fill jobs are in:

Japan (81%)

Brazil (71%)

Bulgaria (51%)

Australia (50%)

United States (49%)

India (48%)

New Zealand (48%)

Taiwan (47%)

Panama (47%)

Romania (45%)

Argentina (45%)

Mexico (43%)

Germany (42%).

Talent shortages are least problematic in Ireland and The Netherlands. The percentage of employers reporting difficulties has remained relatively consistent over time, however India has displayed volatility where the proportion dropped 19 percentage points since last year, but jumped 51 percentage points the year before that. The number of employers struggling to fill roles in France has jumped 9 percentage points, whereas it has dropped 15 percentage points in Italy.


Regionally, employers in the Americas are having the most trouble filling jobs than the global average, with 41% of employers reporting difficulty filling positions due to lack of available talent. This figure represents the highest proportion of employers reporting difficulty since the start of the global economic downturn in 2008, and a 4% increase over last year’s survey. Despite this, employers are less concerned about the impact talent shortages have on key stakeholders, with more than half (58%) believing the talent shortage will have little or no impact, up from 38% in 2011.

For the first time in the survey’s seven-year history, employers in the Americas report engineering roles as the most difficult to fill across the region, up from fourth last year. While the role does not top the list in any individual country, it ranks second in Argentina, Canada, Cost Rica and the United States. Employers in Brazil (71%), the United States (49%) and Panama (47%) are having the most difficulty finding staff. Year over year, employers report greater difficulty filling vacancies in seven of the 10 countries. The most common strategy implemented by employers in the Americas to address talent shortages is additional training and development for existing staff, up from 32% in 2011 to 37% this year, and considerably more than the global average of 25%.


Nearly half (45%) of Asia-Pacific employers report difficulty filling job vacancies due to lack of available talent. This represents an increase of 17 percentage points over the survey’s seven years and 11 percentage points more than the global average. Employers having the most difficulty finding the right talent to fill jobs are those in Japan (81%), Australia (50%), and India and New Zealand (both 48%). The talent shortage is least problematic in China (27%). There continues to be a clear shortage of skilled sales representatives in Asia-Pacific, as this position remains the most difficulty to fill for the seventh consecutive year. There also is a notable rise in the proportion of employers that feel talent shortages have a low or medium impact (up from 32% to 48%).

Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA)

Across the 23 countries surveyed in EMEA, one in four employers reported difficulty filling jobs due to lack of available talent. This proportion is considerably lower than in the Americas (41%) and Asia-Pacific (45%), indicating that a weaker recovery trend continues to suppress employer hiring trends, making talent supply less of an issue in the region. The most acute shortages are reported in Bulgaria (51%), Romania (45%), Germany (42%), Turkey (41%) and Austria (40%). Those having the least difficulty finding the right talent to fill jobs are in Ireland (2%), The Netherlands (7%), Spain (9%) and South Africa (10%). The polarity of the survey findings in EMEA reflect that bifurcation of the workforce in the region is accelerating. Surprisingly, employers are not considering strategic migration as a solution. Currently, 9% of employers in EMEA are looking outside of their local region for talent, and 4% are considering looking outside their national borders.

EMEA employers named skilled trades as the most difficult position to fill for the seventh year in succession, followed by engineers and sales representatives. This year, EMEA

employers are considerably less concerned about the impact talent shortages are likely to have on key stakeholders, with the proportion of employers saying they see no impact almost tripling, from 14% to 39%.

Contents © 2012 WorldatWork. For more information, contact the Copyright Department at WorldatWork.


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