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US, Americas, Asia and Europe Talent Outlooks Beyond 2010 - Strategy Shift!

Talent demands are shifting - in quantity, specificity and regional demand. This overview previews the 2010 labor and talent survey by Manpower.

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Editor's Note

You will see in the shifts from 2009 to 2010 that the business cycle has changed. The emphasis in heavier, now, on SALES and INSTALLATION -- that means that business is picking up and companies have shifted from reengineering processes to marketing, sales and implementation.

Job Qualification Specificity Increases

Although the current global economic situation has increased the number of overall job seekers in labor markets worldwide, there is still a notable talent shortage in many countries and industry sectors. So the immediate problem is not the number of potential candidates. Rather, it is a talent mismatch: There are not enough sufficiently skilled people in the right places at the right times. Simultaneously, employers are seeking ever more specific skill sets and combinations of skills – not just technical capabilities alone, but perhaps in combination with critical thinking skills or other qualities that will help drive the company forward. As a result, the “right” person for a particular job is becoming much harder to find. And the problem shows no signs of easing.

Manpower has released the results of its annual Manpower Talent Shortage Survey, revealing persistent talent shortages in many countries and industry sectors.

In the U.S., 14% of employers reported having difficulty filling key positions within their organization, down from 19% in 2009.

Worldwide, 31% of employers are experiencing challenges finding the right talent, similar to the 2009 figure of 30%.

The most difficult U.S. jobs to fill are Skilled Trades, Sales Representatives, Nurses and Technicians.

These job titles have appeared on the U.S. survey in past years and closely mirror the global results of the survey this year.

The top hardest jobs to fill globally are Skilled Trades, Sales Representatives, Technicians and Engineers, according to the survey of more than 35,000 employers across 36 countries, which included 2,000 U.S. employers. Significantly, these are the same top jobs that employers have reported struggling to fill for the past four years, suggesting that there is an ongoing, systemic global shortage in these areas.


2010 U.S. Jobs Most in Demand 2009 U.S. Jobs Most in Demand
1.   Skilled Trades 1.   Engineers
2.   Sales Representatives 2.   Nurses
3.   Nurses 3.   Skilled Trades
4.   Technicians 4.   Teachers
5.   Drivers 5.   Sales Representatives
6.   Restaurants & Hotel Staff 6.   Technicians
7.   Management/Executives 7.   Drivers
8.   Engineers 8.   IT Staff
9.   Doctors, Other Non-Nursing, Professionals 9.   Laborers
10. Customer Service Representatives, Customer Support 10.  Machinist/Machine Operator

Job Opportunities Across the Americas

The top 10 jobs that employers are having difficulty filling across the Americas countries surveyed are (ranked in order): Americas Results 1 Technicians (primarily production/ operations, engineering or maintenance)
  • 2 Sales Representatives
  • 3 Secretaries, PAs, Administrative Assistants & Office Support Staff
  • 4 Skilled Trades
  • 5 Production Operators
  • 6 Laborers
  • 7 Accounting & Finance Staff
  • 8 Engineers
  • 9 Drivers
  • 10 Management/Executives

Vacancies for Technicians are the most difficult to fill for the third year in succession. After not appearing among the top 10 hard-to-fill positions in the 2009 survey, employers are identifying Driver positions as the ninth most difficult to fill.

Asia Pacific Talent Demands are UP!

Nearly 9,000 employers were interviewed in Australia, China, Hong Kong, India, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore and Taiwan. Data shows that 41 percent of the region’s employers are having difficulty filling positions due to the lack of suitable talent available in their markets. This is a notable nine percentage point increase when compared to the 2009 survey and is 10 percentage points greater than the global average.
  • 1 Sales Representatives
  • 2 Technicians (primarily production/ operations, engineering or maintenance)
  • 3 Engineers
  • 4 Skilled Trades
  • 5 Management/Executives
  • 6 Production Operators
  • 7 Accounting & Finance Staff
  • 8 Sales Managers
  • 9 IT Staff (primarily programmers/ developers)
  • 10 Laborers

Europe, Middle East and Africa Job Opportunities Decrease

Employers identified vacancies for Sales Representatives as the most difficult to fill for the fifth year in succession. Sales Manager positions and Production Operator positions have become increasingly difficult to fill, the former moving from 13th place in 2008 and 2009 to eighth place in this year’s survey, and the latter moving from 10th place in 2008 and 2009 to sixth place in this year’s survey.


Manpower's publication, "Teachable Fit: A New Approach for Easing the Talent Mismatch" offers advice for employers to broaden their search for candidates to include industry migrants, location migrants, role changers and workforce entrants.

Training and development are key to successfully tapping into these talent pools.

"By broadening their search for talent in untapped pools, employers can leverage candidates that may not be a precise fit but instead are a 'teachable fit'," added Prising. "Mastery of technical skills, while still important, matters less. Employers need to look for individuals that possess the capacity, capability and motivation to learn new skills in the future."

Talent Search and Mismatch

A variety of factors contribute to these survey results, such as demographic shifts, social customs, education and entrepreneurial practices.

These factors can combine to make the talent challenge somewhat different for each nation and region. But one thing is universal – the underlying reasons for talent shortages are here to stay.

Once economic recovery takes hold worldwide, the talent mismatch that is evident today will be even harder for organizations to overcome.

Skill Sets in Demand

Furthermore, the skill sets that organizations are requiring are becoming ever more specific and refined, thus making finding the perfect candidate even more difficult. For example, organizations in need of accountants often require accountants with even more specialized skill sets, such as forensic accountants, accountants specializing in troubled debt restructuring or those familiar with International Financial Reporting Standards.

Employer Strategies Shift to "Teachable Fit" + Training

It is imperative, therefore, that employers recalibrate their mindsets to consider candidates who may not have all of the specific skills a job requires. This is especially true for systemic shortages of in-demand roles: Employers cannot address these shortages one hire at a time.

  1. Employers must refine job descriptions and candidate evaluations to identify people with “teachable fit” based on adjacent skills rather than traditional fit.
  2. At the same time, they must also commit to reskilling and upskilling employees, new hires and even potential candidates by partnering with governments and other stakeholders.
The complete global results of the Manpower Talent Shortage Survey and Fresh Perspectives Paper, Teachable Fit: A New Approach for Easing the Talent Mismatch, can be downloaded at Manpower.



Edited by Carolyn Allen, owner/editor of California Green Solutions
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