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Industry Insight

Many Employers are Crying in the Wilderness for Talent, Says Report from Manpower Inc.

Good luck telling this to someone who’s out of work,

By Patrick Henry
Published: June 5, 2009

Good luck telling this to someone who’s out of work, but around the world, 30% of employers are struggling to fill open positions despite the high jobless rates brought about by the economic downturn. Globally, the toughest of all jobs to fill are the skilled trades—the category to which most printing employment belongs. This is according to research by Manpower Inc., a Milwaukee-based global provider of employment services. For its 2009 Talent Shortage Survey, Manpower surveyed nearly 39,000 employers across 33 countries and territories to gauge their ability to find the talent they need. The respondents said that the top 10 jobs causing them the most recruitment problems are, in order of difficulty: 1. skilled trades 2. sales representatives 3. technicians (primarily production/operations, engineering or maintenance) 4. engineers 5. management/executives 6. accounting & finance staff 7. laborers 8. production operators 9. secretaries, physicians’ assistants, administrative assistants, office support staff 10. drivers The “skilled trades,” as Manpower defines them, span a broad range of job titles that require workers to possess specialized skills, traditionally learned over a period of time via apprenticeship. The “technicians” category also can include positions in graphic communications. The fact that so many employers can’t find what they need in world labor markets indicates that “while more people may be looking for jobs, they don’t generally have the skills that organizations are looking for,” the survey report states. The situation is less severe in the U.S., where only 19% of 2,019 respondents reported difficulty in filling positions. Here, the skilled trades are number 3 in order of difficulty, and technicians come in at number 6. But Bethany Perkins, a spokesperson for Manpower, told us that recruitment still can be an exercise in frustration for many American employers. “They’re telling us that people are just not bringing them the combination of skills they need,” she said. The employment famine is worst in Romania and Taiwan, where nearly two-thirds (62%) of would-be hirers have positions going begging. Peru (56%), Japan (55%), Australia (49%), Costa Rica (48%), and Poland (48%) are almost as bad. In contrast, there’s not much of a talent shortage in Ireland, (5%), Spain (8%), the United Kingdom (11%), China (15%), or the Czech Republic (17%). Jeffrey A. Joerres, chairman and CEO of Manpower, thinks that “legacy mindsets and leadership philosophies” are blinding many employers to demographic shifts and other “mega trends” that they should be factoring into their recruiting strategies. The complete results of Manpower's global talent shortage survey can be downloaded at its research center.

Patrick Henry, Executive Editor for WhatTheyThink.com is also the director of Liberty or Death Communications, a consultancy specializing in research, education, promotional, and editorial support services for the printing and publishing industries.

Patrick Henry is available for speaking engagements and consulting projects. To get more information contact us here.

Please offer your feedback to Patrick. He can be reached at patrick.henry@whattheythink.com.



By Uncle Dave on Jun 05, 2009

..frustration for many American employers. “They’re telling us that people are just not bringing them the combination of skills they need,” Are Sub living wages being offered? Want multiple skills? They warrant high level pay. "... specialized skills, traditionally learned over a period of time via apprenticeship ..." Apprenticeship programs are a thing of the past.


By Michael J on Jun 05, 2009

And yet our community colleges and the students in them are all stressed about finding jobs or having to go to college. I think the problem is that the industry has invested so much money in "education" and "donated" money for feel good projects to colleges and universities that are not doing the jobs they are being paid for. While charging students ever increasing fees. All of that money would be much better invested in mentored apprenticeship programs. Doing proof of concept innovative work in well defined regions and local communities. I'm still hoping that as the trade associations search around for a new business model, they will recognize this enormous opportunity.


By Brian Regan on Jun 05, 2009

As a provider of skilled temporary personnel to the industry I see things like this. We have MANY skilled press ops (small, Large and Web) and bindery and prepress people out of work and looking. There is no shortage in these areas at this time. Although as SOON as things pick up I will venture to say this picture will drastically change. I am seeing many a firm use this to their advantage and drive down payrates. Dont really agree overall with this approach, but it is happening. People with blended print/tech experience are in higher demand and harder to find. XMPIE people and so on. People that program mail apps and the higher end digital press operators.


By Thomas Parbs on Jun 08, 2009

How true this report is! I work for a paper company in IL, that exclusively sells it's own Carbonless paper products (amongst some other items necessary for printers). Since I came to the company on August 11, 2008 I sell over $100,000 or more monthly just in Carbonless paper and have over 300 personal clients that I deal with. I still follow up with my clients EVERy 2 weeks and make no less than 75 phone calls daily (true, meaningful calls to actually get something done). I have effected a 50% increase to this company's business and still get treated like dirt, talked to like I am an idiot, and they are withholding commissionable profits which has created a significant problem in my true earnings. When bringing up these issues, I am told," there is the door if you don't like it!" Since I have been here, the company has gone through 10 sales "professionals" and either they quit within the first day or are fired after 2 weeks. So while honest and respectable firms are looking for talent, you also have companies with talent that don't know what to do with it. With a wife and 4 children to support, how would talent find these respectable companies?


By Brewcrew on Jun 08, 2009

As someone who was out of work for 6 months .... I found that companies have such HIGH desire for TOP notch personnel.... BUT LOW pay offers to the "Qualified" person!! As someone who has been in the industry for 25 years, multiple degrees, Owned and managed Web & Sheetfed plants.... Managed Buyouts and transitions..... I found it quite interesting that out of 5 interviews with companies in the $20 million in sales.... bidding for plant manager positions..... The best offer was $55,000 ? Oddly..... It was a small $6 million sheetfed house that wanted the quality and just run the plant mentality that offered $80,000 Plus Benefits !! So.... for the Mid to large companies to complain about a lack of workers.... is simply Self Inflicted Cheapskates !!


By Lithoman on Jun 09, 2009

Let's face it. If you haven't done it before and it's not in your title most companies won't look at you. They would rather hire someone who has done it before. It doesn't matter if that person was a failure. The fact is that failure did it before so the printer thinks he's good. Owners should stop whining and look at peoples skill sets and not their title.


By DJ Dunkerley on Jun 10, 2009

Ah yes, the myth of the "skilled worker" shortage. Like clockwork every six months, some periodical/publication puts out some sort of report that there is a shortage of skilled workers. It would be funny except that so many are looking for work, it's not funny anymore, but infuriating methinks to a lot of people.


By Paul Cavanaugh on Jun 10, 2009

As the Apprenticeship Program Manager for Heidelberg I can assure you there is a gap in talent when trying to find people with the base skillset to be taught how to repair a printing press. I travel to technical colleges throughout the US and speak with 400 students a year whom are taking courses in Automotive, Machining, Industrial Maintenance, Powersports, Aviation Maintenance, etc. From this group I receive 60 resumes of which 8 or so have the base skillset I am looking for. There are less young people interested in working on machinery of all types. Unless this trend changes, finding people to run printing equipment as well as repair it will become more and more difficult. The key to this whole issue is getting the younger generation interested in working with their hands again on something other than an Xbox 360. Until this happens there will be no pool of talent with individuals who possess a skilled craft. On the positive side... The ones who do posses the skills will command higher wages in the future. Paul Cavanaugh Manager Apprentice Development Program Heidelberg USA, Inc. paul.cavanaugh@heidelberg.com


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