A new report published by the Harvard Business School suggests that jobs deemed “middle-skill” – wherein it requires more skills and education than a high school diploma but less than a four-year college degree – are becoming increasingly tricky for HR managers to fill. And perhaps more concerning, difficulty filling these positions can threaten a company’s ability to grow and compete globally, the researchers suggest.
The report, which were based on a survey of more than 800 HR execs, showed that 47 percent of all job postings are for these middle-skill jobs. Further, 56 percent of HR execs reported finding middle-skills jobs hard to fill, with those in finance and insurance (68 percent), information and telecommunications (55 percent), and health-care (54 percent) experiencing the greatest challenges.
Looking to the impact on business, meanwhile, the survey revealed that 69 percent of respondents said their inability to attract and retain middle-skills talent frequently affected their company’s performance and 34 percent believed that inadequate availability of middle-skills workers had undermined their productivity.
In order to attract this elusive group, the researchers suggest that:
– Business leaders establish and promote an employer-led skills-development system that sources employees with these mid-level skills. This should include building relationships with community and technical colleges to source talent and offering internal training and internship/apprenticeship programs in order to develop existing employees.
– Educators from community and technical colleges “embrace their roles as employment partners,” by keeping an ear to the ground for developments in the job market, as well as to employer needs.
– Policy-makers actively foster collaboration between employers and educators by taking steps to improve publicly available information on the jobs market, revise metrics for educators, and push workforce development programs that highlight the role that middle-skills jobs play in creating and maintaining a competitive US economy.