More firms in competition for skilled workers

On the Job

April 04, 2007|By Hanah Cho | Hanah Cho,Sun Columnist

We've been hearing a lot about a talent shortage in the labor market. But where exactly is the shortage in talent?

Because, seriously, it's hard to avoid layoff news coming from all corners of the work force these days. Case in point: Circuit City fired 7 percent of its hourly workers last week. It plans to replace them with lower-paid employees.

But recruiters and employment experts say job candidates increasingly have the upper hand in the job market as employers compete for talent.

A survey released last week by Monster and Development Dimensions International found that 73 percent of staffing directors said competition for qualified candidates has increased since 2005, and 79 percent expect competition to intensify this year. (The survey polled 1,250 hiring managers around the world and has a margin of error of 4 percentage points.)

Another survey, of 2,400 people, pinpoints professions where there seems to be a dearth of qualified candidates. Some jobs require very specific skills or advanced education.

Sales representatives, teachers and mechanics are the most sought-after workers, according to the second annual talent shortage survey by Manpower Inc., an employment services company. Manpower says sales representatives range from positions at retail stores to jobs in business-to-business sales.

The rest of the top 10 most-wanted candidates, in descending order, include:

Technician, such as lab or sound studio staff. That excludes engineers and information technology employees.


Truck driver



Laborer, including freight, stock and material movers

Machine operator of specialized equipment

Melanie Holmes, vice president of corporate affairs at Manpower, says the aging work force is one reason there is a talent shortage. But it also means there are plenty of opportunities for people "if you have the skills," Holmes says.

"If you don't have the skills, it's a good lesson that we need to take charge of our careers and maintain and renew our skills to keep up with the contemporary world of the work force," she says.

The survey included five positions also on last year's list. Sales representative was the No. 1 most-desired worker last year as well.

Jobs that did not make the cut this year include engineer, nurse, administrative assistant, call center operator and machinist.

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