– Susie Mattingly, Business Unit Director
With businesses increasingly turning to more sophisticated automation to drive efficiencies, many are worried they won’t be able to find enough technically-skilled workers over the next decade according to CFO magazine. Almost any company is a candidate to feel the pinch as demand for skilled IT workers, researchers and other positions outstrips the supply. Companies may need to look at a mix of strategies such as higher wages, paying or providing bonuses as an incentive for extra work hours, and supplementing their permanent workforce with consultants.
The shortage of technically skilled workers was first identified in the early 1990s but many observers expect it to worsen over the next several years due to two converging factors: (1) the big wave of baby-boomer retirements, and (2) fewer students pursuing technically-oriented career paths. “Our young people love technology,” says Edward Gordon, an author and former college professor who consults with companies on workforce issues, particularly concerning the skilled-labor shortage. “But they don’t want to design, manufacture, repair, or manage it. They consider these jobs inferior and socially uncool.”
Research by Gordon, who has written two books on the topic, estimates that by 2020 there will be 123 million high-skilled, high-pay jobs available in the U.S., but only 50 million Americans with the right education to fill them. U.S. companies are already turning to other countries to supplement the local talent, and they will surely do more of that in the next few years.
Your company can participate in bridging this gap by taking an active role in our community’s education initiatives. Partner with schools to introduce younger students to various occupations before they have to decide on a major for college. Show them how cool technology is by inviting them to your company to demonstrate technical equipment and link that to their need to learn math, science and technology. Take steps to partner with local trade or community colleges. Offer scholarships in vocations where the need is greatest.
A way to cope with the talent loss from retirees is to negotiate a gradual exit for them. Many would like to remain involved but no longer want to work 40 hours. Currently several retirees from our community have returned to work through Keller Schroeder’s Staffing Solutions Group and are working on projects for our clients. It has been the perfect solution with reduced hours, occasional time off and some winters off for an extended vacation in other areas. Our clients have had the benefit of their vast knowledge and experience. A great win-win for all involved.
Ultimately, the skills gap has to be dealt with so be a part of the solution to help your company survive and thrive in what is predicted to be a tight labor market in the years ahead.
To determine whether Keller Schroeder’s Staffing Services might be of assistance in locating technically skilled candidates for your organization, contact our Staffing Group to start the discussion.