A new report from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) reveals the problems its members are having, finding candidates with the skills needed to fill current job openings.
The problems are particularly acute when recruiting for STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) field jobs, with 72% of respondents currently having difficulties recruiting for open positions in engineering.
Nearly three out of four respondents (73%) told SHRM that skills shortages will “have a major impact” on the workplace during the next five years.
Emerging Skills Gaps
The report found English proficiency to be among the top skills gaps with job applicants across industries, which were ranked as follows:
• Basic computer skills – 42%
• Writing in English – 31%
• Spoken English – 26%
• Reading comprehension in English – 17%
• Mathematics – 15%
Back to the Future
Recruiting problems have become so acute that SHRM is even seeing evidence of organizations looking to retain older segments of the workforce as a way to deal with skills shortages among today’s graduates.
When HR professionals were asked about the strongest basic skills held by employees age 55 and older compared with other workers, 45 percent of respondents cited “writing in English.”
Closing the Skills Gaps With Business English Learning
With English figuring so prominently among the skills gaps of today’s candidates, PEBS is increasingly working with HR professionals on specific recruitment programs, as well as providing overall workforce development support.
Here are three ways our clients have been able to address the recruitment issues raised in the SHRM report:
1. Expand The Talent Pool
Integrated Business English learning programs can lower the bar for English proficiency at the recruitment stage, which can effectively broaden your potential talent pool to include more candidates with the specific job skills you need.
By assessing English skills at the beginning of the recruitment process, organizations can establish a minimum standard—on a job-by-job basis—to effectively screen candidates ahead of time-consuming interviews.
Candidates can then be assessed on job-specific skills, with personalized English learning programs available from Day One for new hires based on their initial assessment results.
As Eileen Shue, VP of corporate resources at Sterling Group, Mishawaka, Indiana, told SHRM: “We won’t find perfect people any more—those days are gone. But if you find the best possible candidates and you train them internally, that is your best approach.”
2. Develop From Within
Business English learning programs can also help existing employees develop the skills they need to move into positions of greater responsibility.
As SHRM recommends in its report: “Stronger internal training programs may address the skills shortage, and these initiatives may result in promotions from within, as well as allow existing employees to land those hard-to-fill positions.”
3. Boost the ROI of Internal Training
Despite the increasing skills gaps identified in the study, SHRM reports that training and education budgets continue to face increased scrutiny and budget pressures.
By deploying English learning programs that employees can use during their normal workday—without the need for off-site classes— to develop skills that can be applied with immediate impact, our HR partners are able to deliver impressive ROI figures to company executives.
You can read the full SHRM report here: Workforce Readiness and Skills Shortage
Nicole R Brown
Vice President, Go-To-Market and Operations
Pearson English Business Solutions