Although the employment picture is improving, the job market can hardly be described as robust, and many Americans still feel they can’t find work. Despite the common perception about a lack of work, however, there are jobs that employers can’t seem to fill.
The reasons are many. Applicants may lack training, demand for specific skill sets may outpace supply, and the jobs may not pay enough to constitute a step up from unemployment benefits. Whatever the reason, jobs in many major sectors of the economy, including retail, manufacturing and business services, are going unfilled.
Using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the ManPowerGroup employment agency, as well as comments from employers and other placement firms, CNBC.com has compiled a list of jobs that are in demand. Read ahead to see them.
By Daniel Bukszpan
Posted 12 March 2012
The U.S. gross domestic product has been climbing, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. While this is good news for the overall economy, it represents a problem for the trucking industry, which can’t find enough drivers to haul the nation’s goods.
Transport Capital Partners’ fourth quarter Business Expectations Survey indicated that the driver shortage had improved slightly since August, which TCP’s Richard Mikes attributed to aggressive recruiting on the part of carriers. However, 70 percent of carriers still reported persistently empty seats.
With so many companies continuing their expansion of online operations, software developers remain in high demand. But while the jobs are out there, finding people with the skills to fill them is another matter. Employers are finding it tough to find .Net and Java developers and quality assurance experts, said Mike Barefoot, senior account executive for Red Zone Resources, a North Carolina-based recruitment and staffing firm.
“.Net development is debatably the most popular language and there is a shortage because of the shortage of good talent,” he said in an email. “Regarding Java, this is a language that hasn't been utilized as much during the bulk of the recession. It was picked as one of the most popular languages to be used and make a comeback this year. Because so many developers have migrated to other technologies, this has created an inherent shortage. "
In January, the American Institute of Architects projected a 6.4 percent increase in spending on construction projects for 2013. But will there be enough qualified laborers for these projects?
Laborers positions are among the 10 most difficult to fill. This was one of the findings of the 2011 Talent Shortage Survey released by the ManpowerGroup employment agency. The two biggest reasons for the shortfall were lack of experience and lack of technical skills.
Since 2000, the number of trained nurses entering the job market has increased, but demand is expected to outpace it through 2018, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This leaves many nursing positions unfilled.
“There are lots of different nursing categories, but there are always shortages,” said Tony Lee, publisher of CareerCast.com and JobsRated.com. “Every time they go through a hiring binge, they have to have another one six months later because of demand.”
In February, the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia released the findings of the Business Outlook Survey, which polled manufacturing companies in the Northeast. The manufacturing sector showed signs of a comeback, but Steven M. Stroum, president of the Venmark International marketing firm in Wellesley, Mass., says that workers with relevant experience are in short supply. ”Many of my clients are job shops and small manufacturers,” Stroum said. “They consistently complain that there are no skilled machinists available to meet their requirements.”
Stroum said that a skilled machinist can take years to train, but Nikole Muzzy, a spokeswoman at City Colleges of Chicago, said some employers won’t wait that long. “Students in City Colleges' high-tech manufacturing programs are in such demand that employers are snapping them up before completion of their programs,” she said.
Some jobs, like accounting, have more specialized requirements than others. One job listing may require a candidate whose strength is in data management, while another may require an applicant fully versed in the Dodd-Frank law.
Finding people with enough specialized experience is only part of the problem. Once employers fill these positions, there’s no guarantee that they’ll stay filled. “Most companies that hire [accountants] have difficulty hanging onto them because demand is so high,” said CareerCast.com’s Lee.
As the saying goes, the success or failure of a business depends on three things: Location, location and location. Just as the location of a business can determine how many customers will patronize it, a business needs to be well-situated in order to attract talent and fill jobs.
Gary Miller, president of the Miller Resource Group in Oak Brook, Ill., says his job-search company is encountering increased difficulty in finding well-trained scientific research staff in rural areas. “Workforce training programs have not kept up, or there are not enough people to train, and the real estate market has severely impacted the ability to relocate people,” he said.
Administrative assistants are on the ManpowerGroup’s list of the 10 hardest to fill. As with laborers, the two most frequently cited reasons for ongoing vacancies in these positions are lack of experience and lack of technical skills.
The survey also asked employers what tactics they were using to see to it that administrative assistant positions would get filled. Nearly a third said they would provide additional training to existing staff, while 15 percent said that they were willing to hire untrained staff, provided that they demonstrated growth potential.
As the economy has begun to recover, the hospitality sector has been recovering along with it. Some people now have more disposable income, and as a result they’ve begun to travel again. This has allowed hotels to begin hiring workers, but some have found that candidates lack the necessary combination of skills, even in a capacity that sees little customer contact.
“We struggle to find qualified tradesmen such as HVAC technicians, locksmiths, carpenters and plumbers to work in our maintenance department,” Jessica Comeaux and Kay Pyatt, managers at The Houstonian Hotel, Club & Spa in Houston, said via email. “We have a unique challenge in that not only does the candidate need to have the appropriate trade skills, but he/she also needs to be able to exhibit professional soft skills to be in sync with our organizational culture and to accommodate our clientele.”
According to ManpowerGroup’s survey, no position has been harder to fill than repair technician. This is hardly surprising, since the study cited lack of experience and lack of technical skills as two of the biggest reasons why eager candidates would be turned away from job openings, even ones that have gone unfilled for a long time.
In the survey, 61 percent of employers said productivity had suffered because of the difficulty of filling positions in a timely manner. Rather than offer training to candidates, 16 percent of employers addressed this problem by searching for job candidates outside of their local regions.