Where Serious Skills Gaps Are Hitting Hardest


Businesses in a variety of sectors continue to deal with skills gaps. The Association for Talent Development surveyed more than 700 training and recruitment professionals across the U.S. and approximately 84 percent of respondents indicated that they were in desperate need of talented workers who had the technical knowledge needed to execute or manage critical tasks. But where specifically are skills shortages hitting the hardest?

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Baby boomers hold more than 5 million construction and extraction positions at U.S. companies, according to Adecco. This puts builders and developers at serious risk, as many could lose essential employees in the coming years. In fact, many firms are already struggling with labor shortages due to the Great Recession and the outflow of talent that occurred in the immediate aftermath, according to an opinion piece published in The Wall Street Journal. This has prompted companies in the sector to turn to novel construction methods such as the use of prefabricated features, a phenomenon that could result in the permanent loss of some positions.

Construction companies are spending more than they have in over a decade, The Associated Press reported. More young workers are needed to facilitate this level of productivity and move the industry forward.

Electrical Trades
Businesses that provide electrical services are searching for ways to fill soon-to-be-open vacancies. An estimated 72 percent of the workers in the sector are 45 years of age or older, and more than one-third are 55 and above, Adecco found.

Many argue that apprenticeships are the answer to this problem, but such programs are few and far between, according to The Wall Street Journal. There are fewer than 300,000 apprentices in the U.S. – the result of deep cuts to employer-provided on-the-job and classroom-based training programs.

Welding, Soldering and Brazing
Employees aged 59 and older fill more than 400,000 welding, soldering and brazing jobs, according to Adecco. This presents obvious problems for firms that specialize in these areas or employ full-time fabricators. Again, apprentice programs have been touted as the best possible solution there are just too few of these opportunities to meaningfully address the issue, according to U.S. News and World Report. For instance, The Apprentice School, based in Newport News, Virginia, regularly fields thousands of applications for hundreds of slots.

Computerized Tool Operators
Even companies searching for workers with more modern skill sets are running into roadblocks. Around 60 percent of computerized machine tool operators are above 45 and an astonishing 20 percent are 55 or older, Adecco discovered.

These shortages put entire projects at risk, as organizations lean on inexperienced employees or stretch the few remaining pros too thin, increasing the likelihood of critical errors. In addition, roughly one-third of the industrial firms that top $1 billion in annual revenue stand to lose $100 million over the next five years due to the mass exodus of baby boomers. The cost will be even more significant for leaner operations. Consequently, businesses in the sector must do all they can to design effective employee training programs to cultivate the next generation of skilled workers to fill important vacancies.










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