The national unemployment rate is the lowest it’s been since 2008, at just four point nine percent. That’s so low that some economists are calling it full employment. That means everyone who wants a job, has a job. So, why are Americans still so downbeat about the jobs market and the economy? That’s likely because it doesn’t feel like a recovery. There’s an ongoing mismatch between job skills and available positions and available employees and hiring manager expectations.
The good news is workers are finally getting an increase in wages as full employment has forced employers to increase wages and provide a more flexible working environment. The increase in wages will mean a slowdown in new hiring, which has already started showing up in the numbers.
While there are a record number of job openings, nearly three times the low reached in 2009, employers are still complaining that they can’t find employees with the skills they desire. Here’s what employers say they’re having a hard time finding.
Employees skilled in working with cloud computing applications are better than gold. Most employers have offloaded the bulk of their data storage to cloud applications. Being able to apply cloud computing solutions to business problems and using statistical analysis and visualization tools to demonstrate and communicate results in a meaningful way is an in-demand skill both now and the foreseeable future.
The changing nature of office work also gives rise to a new set of mental skills that can be a difficult transition for older workers. That would be especially true for job skills like cognitive flexibility, being able to visualize business problems and align the solutions with available technology. Being able to visualize workflow and apply technology properly is a hugely valuable skill that employers complain is increasingly difficult to find.
These have always been important and one of the key skills in getting ahead in life. Companies negotiating production schedules, product delivery and service expectations, find negotiation skills to be one of their top needs.
Social Media Marketing
Love it or hate it, social media is a necessary evil in today’s business world. Those who can leverage social media to develop and maintain customer interaction in social media without being labeled spammers have an advantage in today’s business climate. It’s a tough skill to master and social media is a constantly changing marketing environment.
Customer Service Skills
In an age of increasing automation, the ability to connect with a real person and preserve the working relationship with quality customer service is paramount. Some tasks will never be automated and quality customer service is one of those skills.
Employer Expectations Not In Alignment With The Available Workforce
For years after 2009 employers had nearly ten qualified applicants for every position. Some started thinking of that excess of talent as permanent and mindset hardened among some employers. An example is the number of executive assistant job openings that require a college degree. In real life only sixteen percent of executive assistants have college degrees but sixty five percent of the ads out there today list that as a requirement. Some employers can’t let go of the myth that there are people with master's degrees waiting tables. The underemployment rate is below ten percent, which makes it a statistical myth.
What’s more certain is we need to develop better job training programs. Right now the world is short of electricians and the country really needs another 55,000 truck drivers. Public education is not aimed at filling any of those jobs.