Australia to world: positions vacant

by 17 Apr 2007

AUSTRALIA IS one of the top five countries in the world having the most difficulty with skills shortages and filling vacant positions, a global survey has found.

Globally, 41 per cent of employers worldwide are finding it difficult to fill jobs, compared to 61 per cent of companies in Australia. Other countries having difficulty include Costa Rica (93 per cent), Mexico (82 per cent), New Zealand (62 per cent) and Japan (61 per cent).

The survey of 37,000 employers across 27 countries, including 2486 in Australia, found that skilled manual tradespeople, such as electricians, boilermakers and welders are in most demand, along with sales representatives and engineers.

“The fact is that we are now seeing [demand for] skilled trades together with most industry sectors at their highest levels in the past five years, while sectors requiring sales representatives have only started to expand since late-2006,” said Scott McLachlan, MD for Manpower Australia and New Zealand, which conducted the research.

“The increasing demand is a reflection of the continuing skills shortage, which is now seeing growing pent-up demand as many positions remain unfilled.”

In the quest to attract and retain talent, businesses often try to match competitor’s offers, ensuring that their compensation schemes, health care benefits, training programs and other talent management practices are in line with the rest of the industry, said Stephen Hinch, chief marketing officer for Manpower Australia.

“While this strategy may be useful in bringing candidates to the door, it is not the most effective way to usher the right people across the threshold, and indeed continue to retain them,” he said.

Hinch said that while the talent shortage already existed in many areas of the global labour force, employers today require workers who are creative problem solvers for both white- and blue-collar positions.

“The issue on what can be done in the future is really going to need a dynamic partnership between governments, educators and the private sector. That will enhance the individual capacity of Australians and transform our workforce into a talent pool of more, and better qualified employees,” he said.

While there is no generic answer to the skills shortage, Hinch said individually tailored solutions could assist.

Another survey has found that organisations have highlighted the increased need to “sell” to job seekers as a result of the tight labour market.

“Candidates are in a very powerful position –organisations need to think about hiring as a competitive practice if they want to attract the best people,” said Scott Erker, senior vice president of DDI’s Selection Solutions, which conducted the survey in conjunction with Monster.

“Right now, there is a significant gap between what candidates want and what employers think they want. That’s dangerous for organisations, because many don’t understand the motivations of the candidate sitting right in front of them.”

The recruitment industry has acknowledged for some years that retiring baby boomers, coupled with a tightening labour market, would eventually bring about an acute labour shortage, said Neal Bruce, vice president of alliances at Monster.

“However, the survey findings indicate that this eventuality is already upon us. As a result, HR professionals will need to act more like their marketing colleagues, focusing more on the wants and needs of job seekers and effectively “selling” their positions and organisations in order to attract and retain top talent.”

More than half of the staffing directors surveyed said they are finding fewer qualified professional candidates compared to two years ago, according to the survey, which took in more than 3600 job seekers, 1250 hiring managers and 620 staffing directors in five global regions, including Australia and New Zealand.

By incorporating marketing elements, such as branding, sales and retention tactics, into recruitment campaigns, it found that employers can increase the likelihood of reaching and connecting with qualified candidates.


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