Posted: March 28, 2019 by Kelly Murphy-Redd

They say there is a talent attraction “war” going on.
There is a “tug of war” for sure.

It is reported there are more jobs open in the United States than people to fill them. There are new technologies that require skills that many workers don’t have.

Every community is looking for qualified talent. Communities that are trying to help businesses expand or relocate must be able to provide information on the skilled labor pool in their area. These communities compete with each other for talent. Potential job seekers are looking for jobs that satisfy their goals of compensation, quality of life (how they see it), creative fulfillment and more.
The officially reported U.S. unemployment rate at the end of February was low (3.8%).

However, as reported by The Balance and others, the real unemployment rate, is 7.3%. This includes the marginally attached. They have looked for work in the last year but not the previous four weeks. It also includes discouraged workers who have given up looking for work. They could have gone back to school, started their own business, gotten pregnant, or become disabled.

The fastest growing job sectors are healthcare and technology.

But there is also a shortage in trades such as carpentry and welding.

According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) the top reasons
organizations are struggling to hire qualified workers are:
  • Competition from other employers
  • Candidates do not have the needed work experience
  • Candidates do not have the right technical skills
  • Salaries and benefits are not competitive for the market
  • Low number of applicants or lack of interest in the organization
  • Candidates do not have the right workplace (soft) skills
Education and training are cited as the top remedy for this crisis. Employers should provide training and continuing education for employees. Employers surveyed say educational institutions still need to do more to connect with employers and potential employees to offer relevant skills training.

Some analysts will say that employers need to raise wages. We might ask the question: Which employers? Some employers cannot raise wages and maintain a profit which keeps everyone employed and provide benefits. Some restaurant employers say they will go to automation if there is a high national minimum wage. As in the last blog, we ask the question as to what kind of jobs are we talking about?

However, many job seekers and hiring agencies report many employers advertise required qualifications that do not equate to the compensation being offered. They want a lot for too little.

Employers list the following skills as lacking in job seekers:
  • Problem solving
  • Critical thinking
  • Innovation and creativity
  • Ability to deal with complexity and ambiguity
  • Communication
HR professionals list the following as lacking in job seekers:
  • Professionalism
  • Critical thinking
  • Lifelong learning
  • Business acumen
However, there are many “talented” potential workers that have these skills but may not have the technical skills needed for a certain job. Should employers be willing to look at these people? Should employers think it realistic or reasonable to require all employees, even those not doing the actual technical work, to have a technical background? These people can learn.

Every community has target industries and works to attract employers and skilled workers. Should we also be working towards more diverse employment opportunities to address the more intangible quality of life and quality of place issues?

There are many companies that provide talent attraction programs and strategies. Many economic developers are using some of these strategies. A great many - including our own EDC - work with employers and educational institutions to form a coalition to deploy talent attraction programs.

Communities need to come together and ask harder questions and look at more than conventional data. Talent attraction is not just citing the strengths of your community in ads. It is knowing that talent will also find out about your weaknesses. What are you doing to address those?

When we delve deeper into the topic of talent attraction, we can see the different players pulling in different directions, but all working towards, if not the same goal, compatible goals.