SHRM Poll: Global Competition for Skilled Workers Fell from 2011

By Roy Maurer Apr 5, 2013

Only 13 percent of organizations believe they are facing global competition for skilled workers in hard-to-fill jobs—a decrease from 23 percent in 2011, according to recently released data from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).

Despite this drop, global competition for skilled and educated employees is likely to increase in the years ahead, predicted Jennifer Schramm, GPHR, SHRM’s manager of workplace trends and forecasting. “Though we cannot know for sure, this drop may be related to high rates of unemployment in other developed economies, especially in the eurozone,” Schramm told SHRM Online.

“European countries are among the United States’ main competitors for access to highly educated and skilled immigrants,” she said. “But since unemployment and economic uncertainty continue to be a problem in many parts of Europe, many skilled immigrants are likely to put the U.S. at the top of their list of countries to work in, especially as the U.S. economy and labor market have started to improve.”

As working-age populations around the world shrink, competition for qualified workers is likely to grow. Larger organizations in particular could increase their number of hires from outside the U.S., according to the research.

“Working-age populations aren’t shrinking everywhere, but in many developed economies they definitely are,” Schramm said. “Even in countries like the U.S., where the Millennial generation is very large—even bigger than the Baby Boomer generation—many employers may be concerned that Millennial workers might not have the years of experience to fill some of their most hard-to-fill jobs, such as those being vacated by highly educated Baby Boomers. This could lead to recruiting challenges down the line.”

The findings are from the SHRM Poll: The Ongoing Impact of the Recession—Global Competition and Hiring Strategies, conducted Aug. 28-Sept. 14, 2012.

SHRM surveyed 3,481 HR professionals, randomly chosen from the Society’s membership, about their organizations’ financial health and hiring plans.

The poll, released March 12, 2013, is one in a series of three surveys that examine the continuing impact of the global recession of 2007-09. The other two polls focus on financial health and hiring and gaps in recruiting and skills.

A lack of relevant qualifications and competition for talent are the top reasons that two-thirds (66 percent) of respondents’ organizations are having difficulty hiring qualified full-time employees. Strategies that employers are using to overcome these recruiting challenges include expanding advertising efforts (47 percent), using social media to find passive job seekers (44 percent), collaborating with educational institutions (37 percent) and expanding the search region (36 percent).

But are businesses facing global competition for applicants for hard-to-fill jobs?

Thirteen percent of organizations said yes.

According to the findings, larger organizations (2,500 or more employees) are more likely to report global competition than smaller organizations (1-499 employees).

Employers in the high-tech industry are more likely than those in the finance, health, manufacturing, professional services, and state or local government industries to believe they are facing global competition for hard-to-fill jobs.

According to the poll, about one-quarter (24 percent) of organizations have hired workers from outside the U.S., the same percentage as in 2011.

Again, larger organizations were more likely than smaller ones to have hired workers from outside the U.S., and the high-tech industry was more likely than other industries to have hired workers from outside the U.S. for hard-to-fill jobs.

Of the organizations surveyed, 76 percent have U.S.-based operations only, while 24 percent are multinational.

Roy Maurer is an online editor/manager for SHRM.

Follow him at @SHRMRoy

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