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World — Global skilled trades shortage could stall growth

26 August 2010

Worldwide, skilled trades positions are the hardest to fill, according to a new global Talent Shortage Survey of 35,000 employers across 36 countries and territories by Manpower Inc, the provider of innovative workforce solutions.

In a new World of Work Insight Paper entitled 'Strategic Migration, a Short-Term Solution to the Skilled Trades Shortage', Manpower warns that as the global economy recovers, it is necessary to implement strategic migration policies in order to create a mobile workforce and plug the gap of skilled workers.

The lack of skilled blue-collar workers could impede the progress of infrastructure projects and inhibit national growth, such as transportation in India and power in Brazil, for example. It is a problem that national governments must address for the long-term to foster economic health and fuel business growth. In the meantime, increasing the mobility of these workers can help ease the talent shortage.

Jeffery A. Joerres, Manpower Chairman and CEO, said "as the global recovery gathers pace, cultivating future talent and alleviating the shortage of skilled workers is becoming vital to ensure economic growth."

"With unemployment high around the world, migration is an emotive subject but strategic migration will be necessary to create a global workforce and alleviate the current shortage. Countries should be developing policies which facilitate positive migration to fuel economic growth through providing skilled workers where they are needed, rather than creating barriers to immigration."

Shortages of skilled workers are acute in many of the world's biggest economies, including the United States, Germany, France, Italy, Canada and Brazil, where employers ranked skilled trades as their number one or number two hiring challenge, according to Manpower's 2010 Talent Shortage Survey.

Strategic Migration calls for long-term, collaborative strategies to alleviate shortages of skilled workers, including promoting positive attitudes towards skilled trades work and ensuring that the technical training workers receive reflects the current demands of industry. Although migration can provide an immediate solution, these domestic policies should take priority to shape an indigenous workforce for the long-term.

Joerres added "inadequate training and negative stereotypes relating to skilled trades are further fuelling a dangerous shortage of skilled workers."

"Employers and governments need to bring honour back to the skilled trades. They must look ahead to forecast their future skill demands in this area and start working to alleviate this now. Unemployment levels remain high across the globe, particularly among young people, and providing training programmes while working to promote skilled trades as a viable career choice could open up these jobs to a wider talent pool, as well as helping businesses tackle their shortages effectively and sustainably."

Fewer than one in three 15-year-olds in Germany and the Czech Republic see themselves in a high-skilled blue-collar job by the age of 30, and that figure is even lower in Italy, the US and Japan, according to a survey by the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

A workforce that meets the needs of businesses is vital to ensure that the global economy flourishes in the future. Addressing shortages with strategic migration in the short-term and changing perceptions and training programmes in the long-term is the key to creating an environment, which encourages infrastructure projects and growth.

To read the full report please click here



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