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Dec 23
2010

Why some jobs are going unfilled

Posted by Stephen Taub in unemployment rateunemploymentresearch and developmentR&DjobsjoblessnessDeloitteCareers/Management

Stephen Taub

Contrary to what a number of politicians have asserted in recent days, the current jobless rate is not due to a pervasive desire to cash unemployment checks and lounge around or a desire to become "hobos," as Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) asserted earlier this year.

A new Deloitte study soberly concluded what many employers have suspected for years: The potential employment pool is becoming less and less qualified for the jobs that are available.

It reports the quest for talent in global and emerging markets is the leading concern among 41 percent of the corporate executives and talent managers. It is a slightly less pressing concern for companies the Americas (35 percent).

The study also found potential critical shortfalls in research and development (R&D) skills and executive leadership.

In fact, nearly three-quarters of executives surveyed (72 percent) anticipate either a severe or a moderate shortage in R&D talent, while more than half of those same executives (56 percent) stated they expect the same magnitude of shortage among executive leadership.

"What we are seeing is an unexpected talent paradox - even though unemployment rates remain relatively high in the US-- companies are struggling to find the skilled workers they need to fill critical jobs worldwide," says Jeff Schwartz, a principal in the human capital practice of Deloitte Consulting LLP and global co-leader and US leader for talent services. "During the recession, most executives were churning their business and talent strategies into survival mode, not success mode - this has to change or corporate growth and innovation will be severely challenged."

Deloitte says the R&D shortage is particularly prevalent in industries where product innovation is critical. Among technology, media and telecom companies, 40 percent of those surveyed predict a severe shortage of R&D talent, while 39 percent of consumer/industrial companies and 37 percent of life sciences and healthcare companies surveyed foresee severe skill shortages in this area.

What's more, many executives are concerned about their companies' leadership development programs and pipelines. More than half (56 percent) predict shortages in executive leadership, and 63 percent are either highly or very highly concerned about employee retention over the next 12 months.

"Not only are companies struggling to find the right skill sets to fill critical jobs, but they are worried about their ability to keep the talented workers they have," said Schwartz. "And, these are concerns worldwide - not just in a company's backyard. So, if companies are not thinking about talent and workforce issues in a global way, they are not thinking about them in the right way."

Companies do, in part, blame themselves for this current dire situation. About 80 percent admit that their talent programs need improvement, while only one in five executives rate their company's programs as "world-class."

What do companies that described their firms "world-class" have that the others don't? A different set of priorities and a stronger focus on long-term talent investments than other companies.

For example, the study found that when compared to companies whose talent programs need to be improved, "world class" companies are more likely to make investments in creating career paths and challenging opportunities for employees (46 percent for "world-class" firms versus 36 percent for all others), developing leaders and succession planning (48 percent vs. 36 percent), and recruiting hard-to-find skill sets (42 percent vs. 29 percent).


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