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Skills Shortages will Increase in 2012

As 2011 draws to close we have seen a rapid increase in Skills shortages around the world and it is set to get worse in 2012 as in many sectors demand is outstripping supply and business leaders are failing to respond adequately to the challenge.

There are 4 main sectors that are impacted which are briefly discussed below

  • Healthcare, a doctor can stick a pin in a map virtually anywhere in the world and be welcomed with open arms. It is so bad in Western Australia they now pay for the opportunity to just talk to a Doctor, let alone employ them. You do understand why detailed checks on competence need to be run but it is a bit of an own goal when it can take 6-12 months for Doctor get a visa for Australia whereas they can be in the Middle East in weeks. Nursing is a complete merry-go-round with the UK recruiting from Ireland whilst losing nurses to Australia to be replaced by Polish nurses until this source dried up as Germany offered better terms to replace the nurses it was losing to Switzerland. At the care worker level, despite having approaching 3 million unemployed in the UK, the care sector is having to look within Eastern Europe to cover vacant positions as the Brits won’t do the work preferring the benefits system to paid employment. Now the crunch is really coming because the famous Polish Workers are no longer interested at historic pay rates so this will have an inflationary impact on the care sector because of political weakness. The story is true in many other countries.
  • Natural Resources – oil and gas, various forms of mining and the water industry are all chasing the same talent around the globe. There are plenty of chiefs out there that want to be pen pushers but what the world actually wants is the Indians to actually do the hard grunt work at the coal face. Australia is critically short of talent in these areas but  until the CEO’s and Boards of Directors through out the HR manuals that constipate the process and start talking directly and openly to the market they have no chance in solving their problems, brought about by the failure to plan and communicate effectively in the modern world. We read that Canada remains short of talent in the mining sector but it is not a market we trade in. The Middle East remains chaotic and rarely do clients give the bullets to put in your gun to head hunt effectively. A job description hardly ever appears so we simply don’t bother as without one how can we carry out a responsible or effective search.
  • Education – the root of the current problems in many locations. Poor standards linked to inappropriate course content. How many illiterate media graduates does the world want? Answer none. We are major suppliers of ESL teachers around the world and here demand is outstripping supply. The Middle East has an insatiable demand that we simply can not meet under current recruitment criteria and the new women only university in Saudi Arabia is several hundred lecturers light because the problems of recruitment were not recognised early enough. It is interesting to note that the future powerhouses of the world economy are investing heavily in the education sector Brazil, Russia, India and China together with South Korea are big players. Amazingly Australia just cut its education budget which is clearly stupid when they have such a skills shortage. Sometimes you wonder what planet politicians inhabit.
  • Engineering – USA and the UK have emerging shortages. Australia again is very short of talent in this area. Engineering tends to cross all industrial sectors in one shape or another from the construction trades into manufacturing and maintenance but there is a reluctance to pay up for the talent so international mobility is not what it needs to be. We very much appreciate the inflationary spiral that is developing but decision makers need to measure the value rather than the cost. Can you afford not to hire is more the question?

So there you have it, you thought 2011 was tough recruiting, well 2012 is going to be worse. As an international recruitment agency we operate on a global platform and very much act as the barometer for recruitment patterns. We have written extensively about the need for proper planning and effective communication but little changes year by year and it is an area that investment analyst rarely comment on but, as talent is the lifeblood of any business all stakeholders should be concerned as to how various investments are handling their recruitment.

It’s a funny old world.


Author: Chris Slay

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