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The Biggest Candidate Shortages As We Emerge From The Pandemic


The world of work has changed drastically during the pandemic. The shift in labor force participation rates, changes to how people spend their time outside of work, and the changing nature of employment have all led to major shifts in the way that we live our lives and view our employers. While some changes are likely to be temporary (like workforce participation), others are more likely permanent (such as changes to the nature of employment).

To get a better understanding of how things have evolved during the pandemic, we recently hosted a panel debate with several business leaders from a variety of industries. We asked our panel 5 key questions related to the impact of COVID-19 and will be serializing this session over the coming weeks.

In this second video our panelists discuss where they believe we will see the biggest candidate shortages as we emerge from the pandemic. To get their collective insights on this, please watch the video below:

Our thanks go to our expert panel members for their time and for sharing their insights so openly:

  •    Jenn Ryan – SVP Operations – Xometry
  •    Douglas Krieger – Director Global Sourcing – Herbalife
  •    Julie Bank – SVP Human Resources – Brighton Health Plan Solutions
  •    John Rorick – VP, Client Services – AgileOne
  •    Steve Lagnado – CFO – Insider Inc

Where might we see the biggest candidate shortages?

Here are some further thoughts on the points raised during the panel discussion. Without doubt, the overall feeling is that there are significant labor shortages in the market today and the situation is arguably getting worse. Employers are struggling to attract applicants and finding it a real challenge to fill their open vacancies. This blog post sheds light on some of the top candidate shortages in the near future and also the longer-term to give you an idea of what you should be preparing for.

Shortage in frontline hourly shift workers

Firstly, our panel is seeing a shortage in frontline hourly workers, working physical shift jobs in light and heavy industrial settings or in distribution. This may be being exacerbated by subsidies relating to unemployment. It’s also being driven by perceived safety and lack of flexibility vs. taking a work-from-home job. Plus increased wages being seen in other industries means this type of position is less attractive to potential workers.

One possible solution to this, other than increasing wages, would be for employers to try to make the work/life balance of these shift roles more flexible and thereby make the job more attractive to potential workers. This is likely to take time to achieve though, both in reality and also in challenging people’s perceptions about shift work. So expect these shortages to continue for the foreseeable future.

Shortage in healthcare related workers given demand from new industries

Due to the pandemic, industries that never previously sought healthcare and medical talent are now eager to hire this type of talent, meaning we could see a shortage in this type of candidate in at least the near future and potentially also longer term.  Companies want healthcare professionals to help them with the new challenges thrown up by the COVID-19 pandemic, such as health and safety in the office and at home. To counteract this potential shortfall employers are likely to have to increase wages or offer different benefits such as better working hours with weekends off or enhanced flexibility.

Shortage in leisure and hospitality workers

Leisure and hospitality work is another area where our panel is seeing shortages emerge. The pandemic has given staff the time to reflect on their positions, to compare the riskiness of a gratuity-linked remuneration such as in hospitality with the kind of known remuneration and benefits that can be secured by switching to an alternative like working in an Amazon warehouse.

Many workers are also reflecting on whether they want a role where taking vacation during the low season is what’s expected, when many would like to be able to be on vacation during the prime vacation weeks. In essence the pandemic has made candidates re-evaluate their careers and decide that more favorable working conditions can be found in other sectors – and that’s going to be a very hard trend to counter, so we can expect such shortages to endure in the long run.

Power being placed in employees’ hands in terms of flexibility

Candidates are now looking for flexibility in their jobs more than ever before – both in terms of flexible hours but also in terms of the ability to choose to work from home. This means that employers are going to have to provide more flexibility in their jobs, in order to retain and attract the best talent. This is a degree of power in determining what work should look like that candidates arguably have never previously had.

Ongoing shortages of skilled labor

There are also severe shortages in skilled labor. If you think that this is a thing of the past, it’s actually not. Indeed we’re seeing the repatriation of lots of roles back to the US, which is great from an economic standpoint but adds further to the labor shortages being seen in the market.

The panel also identified that people with specialist trades skills have consistently been in short supply. Occupations like mechanics, plumbers and welders, to name just a few, are in desperate need of more qualified candidates and as a result wages are buoyant for the candidates with these skills.

IT security shortages with the increase in remote work

With an ever-increasing proportion of the workforce working from home, candidates in IT security and software development are in very high demand, as companies look to protect themselves whilst working online, and make remote working as efficient as possible.

Investing in IT security, and the skills to maintain these systems, is more important than ever before – with cyber crime on the rise, it’s essential that companies protect themselves against hacking attacks by investing in skilled professionals.

The demand for software development skills has also increased over recent years, as businesses look to take advantage of opportunities created by new technology such as cloud computing and how this is being deployed as a result of the pandemic. Software developers will be needed not only to develop software but also to manage servers which host applications online.

The evolution of candidates’ priorities

The last point our panel raised is a broader one, namely that candidates’ priorities have fundamentally changed as a result of the pandemic. As people are being asked to return to the workplace, there are more and more candidates expressing a willingness to take alternative employment at lower wages if that means they can retain the work-from-home lifestyle and eradicate their daily commute. Depending on whether companies can adapt their employment offer or not is going to have long-term ramifications on their ability to attract and retain talent.

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