The employment cunundrum: “Workers, workers everywhere … and ‘nary one to hire.”

Labor shortage in the midst of high unemploymentThese days, conservative estimates are that ~13 million Americans are seeking employment. And yet, more U.S. companies are reporting that they can’t find qualified workers to fill their open positions.

In fact, more than half of American employers surveyed by Manpower Group, a leading staffing group, report that they’re having trouble hiring qualified workers. That’s nearly 40% higher than what was reported in the company’s 2010 survey.

The most obvious reason for the incongruity is the disconnect between the background and capabilities of available workers and the skill sets companies are seeking.

But there may be a few other factors at work as well. Spokespersons for Manpower Group suspect the following:

 The 2009 recession made it very easy for companies to find qualified candidates … but those days are now over.

 Employers are less willing to invest the time or dollar resources to train new employees for specialized or unique work.

 Employers may be less willing to hire candidates from outside their area so as to avoid incurring relocation expenses … even as job candidates may also be less willing to consider moving because of the soft housing market.

Melanie Holmes, a Manpower vice president, puts it this way: “Employers are getting pickier and pickier. We want the perfect person to walk through the door.” She and other specialists contend that companies need to get more realistic about the situation and react accordingly.

The Manpower survey results were part of a large global research study of ~40,000 employers worldwide. The trends it sees of greater difficulties in hiring were clearly evident in several other countries, besides just the U.S. (India, U.K. and Germany), whereas in China the trend was just the opposite.

More results from the 2011 Manpower Group survey can be found here.

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