Shortage of Technically Skilled Workers Looming

With the unemployment rate still hovering around 9 percent, it may seem like an odd time to talk about worker shortages. But many companies are fearing an upcoming technically skilled worker shortage, and others are already struggling to fill certain positions, according to a recent article by www.CFO.com

According to the article, some businesses fear they will not have enough technically skilled workers to get them through the decade. The potential shortage is hitting manufacturing, information technology, and healthcare, which happen to be the biggest industries for contracting, particularly hard. 

This struggle is backed up by data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which shows that the seasonally adjusted number of job openings for manufacturing rose 45 percent in October 2010 compared with the previous October, while the number of hires in the industry only increased 11 percent, according to the article. Additionally, the article cites a study that found fewer than 10 percent of American teenagers are planning skilled-trade careers. Meanwhile, baby boomers are beginning to retire,although perhaps not as quickly as expected since the economy went south. It is still enough to cause concern, especially considering that the median age for workers in manufacturing and utilities is between 50 and 60.

Also contributing to the problem is that technology has changed what were traditionally blue collar jobs to "knowledge jobs" that require higher education and skill level.

We will be interested to see what impact this has on contracting considering that many of the industries involved are the ones in which we see the largest number of contract placements.  Will it be harder for recruiters to find contract candidates? Will companies seek to keep retirees on as consultants working on contract rather than losing them altogether, giving the retiree re-staffing trend we've noticed more steam? Only time will tell, but hopefully it will mean that companies struggling to fill key skilled positions will turn to recruiters for help!

Debbie Fledderjohann is the President of Top Echelon Contracting, Inc.

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