TAMPA, FLA. — A disconnect between training and job availability is creating a challenge for the U.S. labor market, according to a pair of speakers at the 2013 Plastics News Executive Forum.
"There's been a record level of jobs loss and persistent unemployment, but employers say they can't find people to hire," Peter Cappelli said at the event, held March 3-6 in Tampa. Cappelli is a professor at and director of the Center for Human Resources at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.
Cappelli details the hiring issues in this PN Forum video.
Even with unemployment hovering around 8 percent in the U.S. and above 11 percent in Europe, 52 percent of U.S. employers say they can't find people to hire, according to a recent Manpower survey cited by Cappelli. The global average of frustrated employers is 34 percent, with Japan leading the pack at 80 percent.
The situation has been magnified by a lack of investment in recruiting and management training, Cappelli said, making it harder for employers to find workers and to fill vacancies in their management ranks. Management openings now are filled by outside hires two-thirds of the time. Previously, that rate was only 10 percent, he said.
"Employers have to get back in the game and figure out what the cost is to have a position vacant," Cappelli added. "And hiring from within is more productive and cheaper."
Globally, technician jobs were the hardest to fill in 2011, followed by sales representatives. Technicians had ranked third in that category in 2010, while sales reps again claimed the No. 2 spot. And among specific complaints, Cappelli said U.S. employers mostly are complaining about employees' personal work issues such as motivation and time management — not about academic issues.
"There's an impression that U.S. schools are failing," he explained. "But they actually bottomed out in the 1970s, and reading and math scores are up slightly in recent years."
Applicant-tracking software also sometimes plays a role in jobs going unfilled by automatically eliminating candidates that might actually be good fits, Cappelli added.
Robert Maciejewski added at the forum that, in the U.S., there's "a serious shortage" of people to fill skilled positions such as engineers and scientists. Maciejewski is a senior manager with Deloitte Consulting LLP in Detroit.
Among employers, 52 percent listed inadequate problem-solving skills among job candidates, according to a Deloitte study. That was the most common skill deficiency, followed by lack of basic technical training, identified by 43 percent.
Those conditions factored into 3.6 million job openings being unfilled in the U.S. as of November. The situation can be fixed, according to Maciejewski, through integrated management by tying business strategy to attracting, developing and retaining manufacturing workers.
The process includes workforce analytics, which can help in workforce planning, recruiting, performance management and succession management. Maciejewski described the process as "a quicker path to success."
"Traditionally, [employers] have used data, analysis and intuition to make decisions on [employees] — but intuition can be powerful and misleading," he said. "Analytics used with the right data and smart algorithms can predict results."
Analytics already are used in many fields, such as insurance, retail, the U.S. armed forces and health care. The process starts with data and basic reporting and ends with predictive analytics.
"Disruptions such as employee turnover, a bad economy or a worker shortage are often catalysts for requiring workforce analytics," Maciejewski said.
Perception of workplace skills and job value also are issues, according to Cappelli. As far as hiring in manufacturing, too many Americans have gone to four-year colleges, resulting in most of them being overqualified for jobs. This especially will be a disconnect between 2010 and 2020, when the highest number of job openings will be for workers with a high school education or less. Home health care will be the field with the most job growth during that period, Cappelli said.
Public-policymakers also can respond to the job crunch by increasing the amount of vocational education offered in high schools, he added.