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Skilled trades among hardest jobs to fill, study finds

By John Schmid, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel –

MILWAUKEE — A persistent dilemma of the Midwest industrial economy resurfaced in a new study showing that skilled trades such as welders and electricians once again top the latest list of the most difficult-to-fill job openings.

The problem is often called the “skill mismatch” or “skills gap,” and it has frustrated shop floor managers who have complained for years that job openings go unfilled for lack of qualified or willing candidates, even at a time of high unemployment.

The latest findings come from the seventh-annual Talent Shortage Survey released Tuesday by ManpowerGroup Inc., a globally active staffing and recruitment company that has headquarters in Milwaukee.

Manpower found that 49 percent of U.S. employers encounter difficulty filling “mission-critical” positions within their organizations. Topping the list for a second consecutive year was a category called “skilled trades,” which includes craftsmen such as steamfitters, tool-and-die makers, construction workers, bricklayers, electricians and industrial workers.

Also appearing on the list repeatedly since it began in 2006 are trades such as engineers and information technology specialists. The most common reasons employers run into trouble include lack of available applicants, applicants looking for more pay, and lack of experience.

In their search for talent, American employers struggle more than their global counterparts, where 34 percent of employers worldwide are having difficulty filling positions. Manpower surveyed nearly 40,000 workers in 41 nations and more than 1,300 in the U.S.

“This skills mismatch has major ramifications on employment and business success in the U.S. and around the globe,” said Jonas Prising, ManpowerGroup president of the Americas. “Wise corporate leaders” have begun to compensate by developing partnerships with local educational institutions to train their next generation of workers, Prising said.

———

HARDEST U.S. JOBS TO FILL IN 2012:

—1. Skilled trades

—2. Engineers

—3. IT staff

—4. Sales representatives

—5. Accounting & finance staff

—6. Drivers

—7. Mechanics

—8. Nurses

—9. Machinists/machine operators

—10. Teachers

SOURCE: ManpowerGroup Inc.

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