Four out of 10 employers across the world are finding it more difficult to fill job vacancies this year, with sales representatives, skilled manual trades people and technicians in particularly short supply.
A survey by Manpower of almost 37,000 employers across 27 countries has found that 41 per cent employers are having difficulty filling specific roles due to a 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 & CEO 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.
Skilled manual workers are in particularly short supply in Europe, topping employers' wish lists in Germany, the UK, Spain, Sweden, Italy, Belgium, Austria, France and Switzerland, as well as Canada and Australia.
In the UK, management and executive roles were also reported to be harder to fill than in 2006.
"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 even non-skilled laborers.
"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," Joerres said.
In the United States, meanwhile, one stand-out that is not mirrored elsewhere is a shortage of teachers. Teaching posts are now the second hardest position to fill in the U.S., but the profession does not appear in the top 10 elsewhere in the region.
In China's competitive labor market, laborers now rank as the second-most difficult job to fill after not being ranked in the top 10 at all a year ago. Demand for laborers also increased in Australia and Japan in 2007.
The best place to be for workers in the skilled manual trades such as carpentry and plumbing – as legions of skilled migrants from Eastern Europe will testify - is in Western 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.
"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," Joerres added.