How Some Companies Are Bridging The Skills Gap

Career College Central summary:

  • More attention is being paid to labor shortages. A new survey by the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia looks into what companies are doing about it. Lifting wages is only one solution. Even in a very slack labor market, more companies complain about the difficulty of finding workers possessing certain skills and experience. The National Federation of Independent Business reported Tuesday that 41% of small-business owners say they are seeing few or no qualified applicants for their job openings. As a result, a cycle-high 24% say they have job positions they can’t fill right now.
  • A separate study conducted by Dice Holdings shows job openings are staying empty for much longer this year than earlier in the recovery. For some industries and skilled positions, the vacancies last longer than even before the recession. The Philadelphia Fed, which does a monthly survey of local manufacturers, also noticed more concerns about skill shortages.
  • Michael Trebing, a senior economist at the Philly Fed who oversees the monthly survey, said the most commonly cited shortages were skills to use certain machinery or tools, followed by the ability to run site-specific equipment, and supervisory and management skills. Given the growing need to find workers with the correct skills set, the Philly Fed asked businesses this month: what are you doing about it? Almost two-thirds of manufacturers say they are increasing their recruitment efforts, while 56% are training their existing staff.
  • The third approach was to make use of local educational institutions. Mr. Trebing said talks with area manufacturers indicate companies are pairing up with area schools including junior colleges to align a school’s curriculum with a company’s skill needs. Higher wages only pop up in fourth place. About one-third, 34.3%, report increasing salaries.

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