Manpower Inc. on March 29 released the results of its annual talent shortage survey, revealing that 41 percent of employers across the globe are finding it more difficult to fill jobs, specifically openings for sales representatives, skilled manual trades people and technicians, which are in-demand technical workers in the areas of production/operations, engineering and maintenance.

The company surveyed nearly 37,000 employers across 27 countries and territories as a follow-up to its 2006 survey, to determine which positions employers are having difficulty filling this year due to lack of available talent.

"Our data for 2007 reflects the ebb and flow in the demand for talent within the global labor market, as companies and governments seek ways to alleviate talent problems due to demographic shifts, immigration and other issues," said Jeffrey A. Joerres, chairman and chief executive officer of Manpower Inc. "For example, the percentage of German employers who are having difficulty filling positions has fallen dramatically from last year, which is a result of positive government labor market reform. However, labor market flexibility and skills shortages will continue to be a challenge for employers in Germany."

For 2007, sales representatives are listed as the most difficult to fill position in the United States, Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, New Zealand, Ireland and Peru. Similarly, skilled manual trades workers are at the top of the employer's wish list in Germany, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, Spain, Sweden, Italy, Belgium, Austria, France and Switzerland.

"As was the case last year, companies worldwide continue to require experienced sales staff to fuel revenue growth," said Joerres. "Skilled manual trades workers such as electricians, carpenters, plumbers and masons also remain in short supply, particularly in Europe, where many countries are easing this shortage by sourcing foreign talent."

The survey also revealed employer requirements for IT staff and administrative assistants/personal assistants in 2006 have been surpassed by other in-demand positions such as accounting and finance staff and laborers, which refers to non-skilled manual labor positions.

"The absence of skilled IT staff from our Top 10 list by no means indicates that these positions are no longer in demand. Rather, companies are getting more sophisticated about workforce optimization strategies and how they use a combination of outsourcing, in-sourcing, on- and off-shoring and automated technologies, which can help them better manage their talent requirements," said Joerres.

The top 10 jobs that employers are having difficulty filling in 2007 compared to 2006 are (ranked in order):

  2007 Hot Jobs                          2006 Hot Jobs
  1.  Sales Representatives              1.  Sales Representatives
  2.  Skilled Manual Trades              2.  Engineers
  3.  Technicians                        3.  Technicians
  4.  Engineers                          4.  Production Operators
  5.  Accounting and Finance Staff       5.  Skilled Manual Trades
  6.  Laborers                           6   IT staff
  7.  Production Operators               7.  Administrative Assistants/PAs
  8.  Drivers                            8.  Drivers
  9.  Management/Executives              9.  Accountants
  10. Machinists/Operators               10. Management/Executives

The complete results of Manpower's talent shortage survey can be downloaded at http://www.manpower.com/ResearchCenter.

Showing the most changes of any region compared to last year are the Americas, with four new positions entering the top 10 list of hardest jobs to fill. Most interesting is that the U.S. bucks the trend: teachers are the second hardest position to fill in the United States, however, the profession does not appear in the top 10 elsewhere in the region. On the other hand, production operators do not rank in the U.S. top 10, but are the hardest position to fill in the region as a whole.

Of the countries and territories surveyed in Asia Pacific, IT positions are now easier to fill except in India, Japan and Taiwan, where talent shortages are still evident in this sector. In China's competitive labor market, laborers catapulted to rank as the second-most difficult job to fill after not being ranked in the top 10 only one year ago. Demand for laborers also increased in Australia and Japan in 2007, where demand for these workers ranks fourth and eighth, respectively, after failing to make an appearance on the 2006 top 10.

The best place to be for workers in the skilled manual trades, such as carpentry, welding and plumbing, is in Europe. These positions are ranked as the first or second-most difficult job to fill in all countries surveyed in the region, besides Ireland. Also significant is the increase in availability of nurses and production operators across the region, but this is offset by greater shortages of technicians and engineers.

"It is the shortage of specific skills and competences required in industrialized, emerging and developing economies such as India and China which is most concerning. And when demand outstrips supply like this, we can expect salaries and compensation to rise," said Joerres.

Today's survey announcement coincides with the publication of the Manpower white paper, "Confronting the Talent Crunch: 2007", updated since its original publication in 2006. The white paper highlights the growing talent shortages around the world and what businesses, government and individuals should be doing to adapt their human resource strategies.

"Demographic shifts and economic factors are causing more shortages in the workforce which could ultimately threaten the engines of world economic growth and prosperity. Governments and employers need to counter the effects of these shortages by improving training, adopting strategic migration policies, encouraging economically inactive people to enter the workforce and inducing older people to stay working longer," concludes Joerres.

Visit http://www.manpower.com/ResearchCenter for a copy of the Manpower white paper.