This article was updated on July 10, 2018.
If you've tried to recruit anyone in skilled trades lately, you've probably ended up frustrated, and you wouldn't be alone. The latest ManpowerGroup Talent Shortage Survey shows U.S. employers report gaps between talent-needed and talent-applying at 32 percent.
It's a situation that has HR leaders everywhere thinking about ways of overcoming the talent gap.
Effects of the Gap
Positions with the greatest gap are those of heavily skilled workers found in industries such as manufacturing, construction and health care. They're the hardest candidates to come by, according to Society for Human Resource Management.
Organizations list many reasons they are struggling to overcome the talent gap, such as a "lack of available applicants, a lack of experience and a lack of technical competencies or hard skills."
This talent gap, according to 48 percent of the U. S. respondents, has a moderate-to-high negative effect on business. Forty-one percent of respondents report "reduced competitiveness and productivity, and 32 percent report turnover increases, higher compensation costs and reduced employee engagement/morale." Irrespective of those numbers, 18 percent of US employers still have no strategy in place to fill the gaps.
Filling the Gaps
There are a number of methods an employer can utilize when overcoming the talent gap. Mary Young, principal researcher, human capital, at The Conference Board suggests in her webinar that an employer must first "define the organizational capabilities of the future" to ensure talent and business strategies align and then "help managers make better choices to fill the gap." Hiring managers shouldn't be allowed to pigeonhole themselves with overly narrow position descriptions that don't allow for transferable skills and experiences or don't let people to grow into a position.
According to the webinar, employers need to know what the organization is capable of, which current capabilities could be "morphed into those new capabilities," and plan for how long the process will take.
Lastly, Young says, employers must "outline a process for choosing the best strategic option for building the capabilities. Many of these are standard for HR. When are we going to need people? How many people are we going to need? Then, what's your supply going to be? Internally? Externally?"
To create a strategy, HR leaders have lots of options:
— Design new recruitment practices
Recruiting the same way won't yield different results. Look beyond usual tactics and change things up. For example, as reported in Fast Company, Google issued a web-based challenge to employees that was meant to identify new talent from within.
— Ignore the status quo
Tap into new sources like candidates from further afield, retired workers, the "mommy workforce" or veterans. ExecBrainTrust and your local Veterans' Affairs office can help match qualified candidates with opportunities. Also, keep an open mind regarding candidates from outside your immediate region.
— Promote a culture of learning
Encourage employees to take charge of their careers. Forecast which positions will become available and help hiring managers determine which employees could be cross-trained into harder-to-place positions. It's important to keep in mind succession planning and the talent pipeline.
— Become a talent destination
Use internal and external social media to promote your value to candidates. Connect to people on Twitter and LinkedIn who post about your industry and influence your organization's online presence with posts and interactions. Also, take a page from restaurant chain, Chipotle, and use YouTube to post "a day in the life" videos to showcase your culture and key people in key positions.
— Recognize the position's true market value and the state of the talent pool
Offer higher starting salaries, enhance benefits and redefine essential criteria needed to include those who lack some required qualifications, but could acquire them. This will allow for quicker internal and external hires.
Face the Challenge
Finding talent with the required skills remains challenging. Nearly three million people are expected to leave the workforce between now and 2025, Deloitte reports in its HR Times, with baby boomers making up the majority. With them goes significant knowledge and experience that you may not be able to replace quickly. To counter this and overcome the talent gap, HR leaders will need to be creative in filling short-term openings and will need to be more strategic in finding ways to minimize talent gaps in the long-term.