International Recruitment Agencies are the Barometers Skill Shortages

Posted on: 14.06.2011    08:46:15

As an International Recruitment Company we are the barometer on skills shortages around the globe and in our modest way contribute to alleviating skills gaps by being the honest broker of certified trade skills and certain sector professional skills within and across national borders.

We have been warning, for well over a year about the increasing pressure caused by skills shortages around the globe and the issue is rapidly advancing on a broadening front.

There are 4 main areas:

  • Natural resources where Australia leads demand, Norway is active and the Middle East is stirring but has yet to fully engage with the market place and hasn’t come to terms with the wage inflation that is occurring as demand exceeds supply.
  • Healthcare pretty much everywhere there is a shortage of some sort if not a crisis. The UK used to pull in a lot of Polish Workers to cover the bottom end of the market but they are losing interest as they have better choices elsewhere. On higher end professionals like Doctors and Dentists they can randomly stick a pin in a map and know they’ll be needed but are likely to get mobbed if the Australians hear of their availability. Saudi Arabia has made a very smart move in investing $5.3 billion in a new women’s university with a strong emphasis on medicine and if they can overcome internal strictures they could be exporting human talent as well as oil having used petro dollars to fund educational programmes.
  • Engineering – yes that’s right. The boring Mech Eng’s mocked for decades as geeks are now an international skills shortage not just in burgeoning economies like Australia but also in Europe. International Recruitment Agencies are reporting problems across the board and Germany has a particular challenge that they are, in part, trying to address through cross border training schemes in Eastern Europe but want the people to speak German whereas for Polish Workers the second language is English. The UK, where manufacturing activity is slowly picking up the “noise” around Engineering shortages is getting steadily louder. However, like most businesses they fail to plan for national talent management let alone think outside of the box and looking at cross border solutions. At the end of the day you reap what you sow and if you don’t plant any seeds you’ll need divine intervention to harvest a crop and end up with a field full of weeds
  • Education is the last group and this is where we are so fortunate that English is the international language of commerce and as the world becomes a smaller place, through technology, the demand to gain English Language skills escalates and those with the right qualifications can make real choices. It might be a lifestyle move to working in Australia to chasing the tax free packages that come with teaching in Saudi Arabia where they have just lowered the age from which English is taught. We are involved in resolving this particular skills shortage but it won’t be easy. Wages are up 15% from last year owing to international competition and we’ve warned that this may not be enough.

So this is the background there are skills shortages everywhere.

In Australia almost two-thirds of Australian companies indicate they would consider hiring overseas staff to overcome skills shortages. The Australian Institute of Management’s (AIM) National Salary Survey 2011 surveyed 506 large companies throughout Australia, covering over 250 job roles. Around half of the respondents reported difficulties in recruiting staff due to skills shortages. In order to help retain staff, the vast majority (92%) of large companies paid salary increases in the 2010/11 year for at least some employees. The average pay increase for staff who received pay rises was 4%, higher than the average last year (3.7%). This will rise still further as Australia faces increased international competition.

It is moving from being an employer’s market to a candidates market and we also see a lowering of candidate standards as being inevitable.

Very few business leaders have woken up to the new international reality – the world really is a very small place for true international talent. Mobilisation of additional talent whether it is national or international is often strangled by bureaucratic processes that only serve to frustrate everyone involved.

International Recruitment isn’t rocket science – you need a comprehensive job description, a package and contract details and away you go but you need interaction with honest decision makers who know what they want and will cut through the crap associated with HR. The HR double speak is just laughable and it amazes me that Boards of Directors struggling for talent can’t see the barriers being put in place by in house bureaucrats.

In life we can all make choices I simply won’t deal with HR on the front end of an international recruitment drive. Life is too short.

In the expletive free version of what one Aussie told me “ HR, they bring me paper you bring me people” and it is those that cut through the barriers that will win in the new world where things are different.

Also remember that candidates have choices. OK, if Europe won’t give me a visa I’ll go to Australia or Canada being the new thinking.

Welcome to the new reality and remember the early bird catches the worm but that bird needs to know when, where and how to find that worm.

We apply the KISS (Keep it simple Stupid) principle in our business – get that job description right – remembering that acronyms don’t travel and get in touch


Author: Chris Slay

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