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The Jobs that Employers Can't Fill

Posted by: Nanette Byrnes on May 29, 2009

Manpower Inc. has found that 30% of employers worldwide are struggling to find the workers they need. The ten hottest jobs are:

1. Skilled Manual Trades
2. Sales Representatives
3. Technicians
4. Engineers
5. Management/Executives
6. Accounting & Finance Staff
7. Laborers
8. Productions Operators
9. Administrative Assistants
10. Drivers

Manpower compiles the list every year. And last year’s ten were nearly identical. The only shift: IT staff, number 10 in 2008, dropped off, replaced by production operators. (Technicians by the way are technical workers in the areas of production/operations, engineering and maintenance.)

The list is the result of a January survey of 39,000 firms across 33 countries and reinforces the U.S. trends my colleague Peter Coy wrote about in late April. In the Americas, the Manpower survey found 36 percent of companies are struggling with unfilled vacancies, up from 28% last year and well above the 30% global average, with technician spots the hardest to fill.

Like Coy, Manpower CEO Jeffrey A. Joerres highlights a mismatch between the very specific skills companies want and what the workforce has to offer:

“In an environment where companies are pressured to shift their mindset to think more strategically and creatively about how to do more with less, the same approach is being applied to how they manage their talent. Employers are looking for ways to accelerate their business strategy with fewer people. It’s this specificity of skills required in the individuals that employers are now seeking that is creating a sense of talent shortage amidst an overabundant pool of available workers. This conundrum is frustrating both employers and individuals.”

Globally, Manpower found more than half of employers in Romania, Taiwan, Peru, and Japan report they are not able to find all the talent they need. Firms in Australia, Costa Rica and Poland are also highly challenged. On the other hand companies in Ireland, Spain, the United Kingdom, China and the Czech Republic are having little difficulty.

The position of skilled manual trades at the top of the list brings to mind an interesting story about one University of Chicago PhD, Matthew B. Crawford’s decision to fix motorcycles for a living. His argument in “The Case for Working With Your Hands” is that not only are these skills in demand, the jobs are more rewarding than the cubicle life.

Reader Comments

Steve Dill

May 31, 2009 1:00 PM

One other hot area for job seekers is found within the medical device sales field, and, particularly, in the surgical device sales specialty.

As President/CEO of , a leading web site for finding high paying medical device sales jobs, I find that there is always a shortage of exoerienced surgical device sales people to fill the available jobs. The reason is that these jobs require previous operating room coverage experience, which few medical sales reps have.

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