Is Your Industry and Company Prepared for a Labor Shortage?

In a Conference Board report, written about in the Wall Street Journal, it is anticipated that U.S. employers are going to be demanding more labor. labor that won’t be present. This anticipated labor shortfall is due to a number of factors. In addition to the fact that more workers are leaving the workforce voluntarily rather than only through retirement, unemployment has been declining. The labor force participation rate is at a record low. This percentage typically represents 63% of the civilian labor force, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Perhaps there are not enough incentives to enter the labor due to the persistently poor wage increases.

Naturally, the Baby Boomers’ retirement is a major factor in the decline in the labor force. Additionally, a large number of Millennials are delaying their entry into the workforce or are employed in “gig” jobs that prevent employers from hiring them for permanent positions.

Where the Shortage Will Be

It is not surprise that the second-largest labor deficit will be in employment related to the mathematical sciences when looking at the list of occupations that will be most impacted by the labor shortage. This significant shortfall has been brought on by both the dearth of STEM education and the sharp increase in demand for these abilities.

The top, third, fourth, sixth, and seventh positions on the list all need for training and interpersonal skills. Physical and occupational therapists are in short supply, which is a concern. There will be a severe shortage of personnel in the fields of social science, nursing, nursing diagnostics, and religion. Evidently, these jobs are not appealing to Millennial workers.

Also in the top ten are jobs that require workers to get their hands dirty. Plant operation, rail workers, construction workers, maintenance and repair positions will also experience shortages. It is not surprising that Millennial workers would eschew these positions. Many parents with those types of jobs themselves wanted their children to do “better” and often encouraged their children to go to college.

Would You Like Fries with That?

Unfortunately the positions with the least possibility of experiencing a shortage will be in cooks and food preparation jobs and other helper positions that don’t require a great deal, if any, education.

For companies in the healthcare industry the shortage is already very real and is only slated to get worse. The same thing is true of “trade” jobs. Almost every HVAC, plumbing, or electrical company truck I pass on the road is looking for workers according to the help wanted signs plastered on the back bumper. Unfortunately, they are looking for experienced workers to job-hop rather than developing their own talent pool. These companies need to wake up before it is too late.

Many shortages can be overcome by attitude changes and internal training programs that create the needed labor pools. It’s time companies become proactive about labour shortages, focusing on training the next generation of the workers they need.

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Mike Haberman

Michael (Mike) D. Haberman, SPHR is a consultant, speaker, writer of HR Observations, and co-founder of Omega HR Solutions, Inc. After over 30 years in HR he got tired of the past and focuses here on the Future of HR. Connect with Mike.


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