Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Missing Applied & Soft Skills

This Is Why Finding Talent Is Getting Tougher in 2016


By Roy MaurerJun 20, 2016

More than two-thirds of surveyed organizations hiring full-time staff indicate they are having a difficult time recruiting for job openings, according to a research report released today by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).

That number is up from what it was in 2013, when half of responding organizations reported having recruiting difficulties for full-time positions.

SHRM surveyed more than 3,300 HR professionals in February 2016 from various industries and company sizes.

Respondents in the health and social assistance (81 percent) and manufacturing (75 percent) sectors reported the highest levels of recruiting difficulty.

These results echo similar findings from the SHRM Leading Indicators of National Employment (LINE) recruiting difficulty index, which has shown a rise in the challenge HR professionals report in finding candidates.

​Talent Churn Muddies the Waters

Lower unemployment and more job openings, as shown by data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics over the past year, may indicate that more people are seeking out new job opportunities, but this churn also is making it more difficult for organizations to fill open positions.

“According to HR professionals, it’s getting harder to find people for the jobs they are trying to fill and the top reasons are a low number of applicants, lack of needed work experience among those that do apply, competition from other employers and a lack of technical skills among job applicants,” said Jennifer Schramm, SHRM-SCP, manager of workforce trends at SHRM.

“Another factor that many HR professionals noted was that their local markets were simply not producing enough qualified candidates. This factor alone could be behind many of the reasons HR professionals think it is a more difficult recruiting environment.”

The survey found significant differences between industries. For example, HR professionals in construction, mining, energy, finance, insurance, real estate, health and social assistance, high-tech, and manufacturing were more likely to report that their local labor market was not producing enough work-ready job candidates compared with respondents from other industries. Respondents in the accommodation, food services and retail sectors were more likely than those in other industries to say candidates lacked workplace soft skills such as problem-solving, interpersonal skills, communication, teamwork and leadership.

HR professionals in the education and government fields were more likely than those in other industries to say job candidates did not have the needed credentials or certifications for the roles they were applying for.

Not surprisingly, vacancies for jobs requiring high and in-demand skills are among the most difficult to fill. According to the HR professionals surveyed, the most difficult-to-recruit-for job categories were high-skilled medical professionals, scientists and mathematicians, skilled tradespeople, engineers and architects, IT/computer specialists, executives, and high-skilled technicians.

Key Skills Lacking Among Job Applicants

More than half (59 percent) of HR professionals reported some level of basic skills deficit among job applicants, and 84 percent reported applied skills shortages in job applicants over the last year.

The most common basic skills deficits employers encountered were:

  • Writing in English (30 percent).
  • Basic computer skills (30 percent).
  • Speaking English (18 percent).
  • Reading comprehension (17 percent).
  • Mathematics (14 percent).

Notably, all industries reported writing in English and basic computer skills as the top two basic skills shortages. The most commonly reported missing applied skills were:

  • Critical thinking and problem-solving (45 percent).
  • Professionalism and work ethic (43 percent).
  • Leadership (35 percent).
  • Written communications (29 percent).
  • Teamwork and collaboration (28 percent).

A higher percentage of HR professionals in the accommodation, food services, retail, finance, real estate, and health and social assistance sectors reported applicants lacking professionalism and work ethic when compared with other industries.

“Many HR professionals are reporting a lack of technical skills as a key reason behind the challenges they are having finding candidates for open jobs,” Schramm said. “Some of the reasons that positions require new skills, according to the HR professionals surveyed, are changing technology, growth of the organization, changing customer and client expectations, and the development of new products and services.”

While technology tends to be a driver of these changes, the most common types of new skills required for the full-time jobs HR professionals said they needed to fill in the last year were actually workplace or soft skills such as interpersonal skills, teamwork and leadership, Schramm said.

Training and Hiring Internally Most Effective Solution

Skills shortages are putting renewed emphasis on training. Although most organizations (70 percent) are ramping up social media engagement to find passive job candidates, build employer brand and advertise open positions, the approach HR professionals consider most effective is to train existing employees to take on hard-to-fill roles, with the largest organizations leading the way in this area.

Almost half (48 percent) of respondents said training existing employees to take on hard-to-fill positions was an effective recruiting strategy. This was followed by using social media and recruitment agencies (both 47 percent), expanding advertising efforts (44 percent), and improving the compensation packages being offered to job candidates (42 percent).

Although training is seen as valuable, nearly one-third (31 percent) of employers are operating without a training budget.

“HR professionals are very close to the talent market, and they are able to see it change and evolve in a way that few others can,” Schramm said. “So they must make the business case for greater investments in training and development based on this in-depth knowledge. To do this, they will often have to show the financial return on investments in training through improved outcomes in recruiting, retention and job performance.”

Roy Maurer is an online editor/manager for SHRM. Follow him @SHRMRoy

About Roy Maurer

Online Manager/Editor, Talent Acquisition
Roy is covers talent acquisition for SHRM Online. Before joining SHRM in 2008, he was an editor and reporter covering state and city government in Indiana, arts and culture in Los Angeles and theater in Washington, D.C. Before that he was a filmmaker and screenwriter. He has a master's degree in journalism from Indiana University and a bachelor's degree in film production from Columbia College.
Contact him at roy.maurer@shrm.org and follow him on Twitter @SHRMRoy​.

Note: Mr. Maurer permitted our reposting his article, 1-23-16

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Community Event Youth Activity, Claremore

Claremore Elks Lodge #1230 and Volunteers for Youth, Rogers County, partnered to host a family-oriented community event in and outside the lodge building. This is an effective model to adapt for other towns and mentoring organizations.

Through a grant from the Claremore Elks, Volunteers for Youth and the Elks worked together with business, public safety, and Pryor's Thunderbird Academy to produce an interactive, something-for-everyone youth mini-festival.

Inside the Elks Lodge were food, hands-on activities, and a haunted house. The Halloween theme added to the festivities, and children and adults had the option of wearing costumes. "Trick or treating" for candy changed to generally healthier food, often decorated by the kids.

Volunteers for Youth logo with cut-outs for faces.
Clever photo op marketing!

Lowe's provided "Build and Grow" work aprons,
safety goggles, tools, and a build-a-boat project
with instructions.

Intently building their boats

A cadet from The Thunderbird Academy
oversees decorating small pumpkins.

Cadets also used the popcorn popper to
pop, bag, and hand out popcorn.
Note the large cardboard decorated boxes.
On a nearby tables were Elks-sponsored coloring books for the Drug Awareness Program and DINE-osaurs coloring pages from Shapeyourfuture.com as well as crayons.

Jack-o-lantern half with a pretzel stem
Boomer Sooner photo op

Apple slices
Spider web with spider chocolate pudding
and decorating a banana ghost with raisins

Grape eyes

Making your own granola buffet & & end product

Warm caramel sauce for apples

Haunted House (a.k.a. Spook House)

Scarier in the dark, foggy with a fog machine, and noisy with typical spook house sounds, creative, applause-worthy!


The black plastic defines the flow of traffic
and allows creatures to surprise thrill seekers.

Lurking behind is the chain saw monkey. Its close-up on the right


Imaginatively created cemetery, especially trees and fencing
Activities Outside

Although inflatables drive up expenses, many of the activities cost relatively little. Having public safety officials allowed friendly conversation and learning up close in a positive fashion.

The Elks campaign for drug awareness/education.

Soccer game and old-fashioned sack racing, i.e., two people,
each with one leg in a sack, racing another team.

"Princess" playing golf

Thunderbird Youth Academy cadets supervising a ball toss

Team Oklahoma, led by Coaches Gundy and Stoops,
Coaches' Mentoring Challenge, mentor recruiting

Even though cadets volunteered for all activities and clean-up/take down, Thunderbird Academy had an information booth, led by Stacy Fuller, a veteran herself and the recruiter for the Thunderbird Youth Academy. The cadets with whom we visited were intelligent, personable, fun, motivated young women and outstanding ambassadors for the program.

"Drunk" goggles, also called impairment
goggles, were a hit. Wearers tried to perform
routine tasks "under the influence" of
alcohol or other drugs.

Celina Davis, PAL Project Mentoring Program Director,
and Chris Butler, Executive Director, Volunteers for Youth.