Still Think There is a Widespread Labor Shortage? Stay on Message.


Kevin Wheeler from ERE recently posted a blog titled The Myth of a Talent Shortage where he states there is not a threatening talent shortage. Some of his comments include:
"Taken at face value and looking at traditional work styles and jobs, there is some validity to [reports of a labor shortage]. Human resources people, recruiters, and some business people will affirm the shortage anecdotally. But it’s hard to find real examples and real numbers."

"Certainly, anyone trying to hire a surgeon in North Dakota, a Starbucks barista in Oklahoma, or a stock broker in Alaska may have to look long and hard. But if you are looking for these folks in urban areas or places with significant populations, the number of qualified applicants increases substantially."
But what about all the Boomers that will soon be retiring? Kevin?
"Studies I have seen indicate that boomers will most likely defer retirement for some time because they have not saved enough to make retirement possible or because they remain healthy and want to continue working. We will most likely also need fewer people to reach the same productivity levels of today."
Read Kevin's entire blog post - it's excellent.

While most of the people posting comments agreed with Kevin some did not. For example, one person said "Your article doesn’t address the shortage of engineers available to aerospace and defense work. Here the shortage is real."

Personally, I agree with Kevin. Especially his comment "I am a believer that when the time is right, the solution appears". Ever since I entered the workforce in the early 1990s I've been reading about the coming labor shortage. But on a broad scale, this has never materialized.

And does it matter?

All of us in the HR marketplace tend to get caught up in this whole labor shortage debate. I understand that many HR Suppliers from Workforce Planning to EAPs like to use the talent shortage argument to drive interest in their own product and services. But as a marketer, I think it is unnecessary.

Focus on what your product and/or service can do to solve the real business pain points of finding qualified candidates (or identifying the "gaps" as workforce planning software does) and don't worry about overselling the urgency or cause(s) of these talent shortages - or try and predict what may or may not happen. You can't force feed it - and you don't need to.

Why?

Because this is a problem/need that will never go away. At any given point, regardless of the decade, demographics, industry, geographic location or business function every company will have their own unique challenges of dealing with employee attrition/turnover and finding qualified talent.

And that's where you come in.

Stay on message.

Don't complicate things.

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