The unemployment rate has been declining dramatically since 2010, dropping from 9.6% to 3.6% in 2019. That’s good news for the workforce, but what about growing businesses looking to hire?
A high percentage of HR professionals and hiring managers report shortages in qualified job candidates, with the majority agreeing that the shortages have worsened over the past two years. The nation is experiencing a skills gap, and Texas is no exception.
What is a “skills gap”?
A skills gap is the difference between the skills that employers want, as shown by their open job descriptions, and the skills those in the labor force can offer. Nationally, the skills gap is visible in the trades, middle-skilled jobs, and high-skilled STEM jobs.
In Texas, middle-skill jobs account for 56% of the labor market, according to the National Skills Coalition, but only 42% of workers are trained to the middle-skill level.
Due to this growing gap, thousands of job openings in Texas will remain unfilled. This problem isn’t exclusive to any one industry. It affects everything from technology to healthcare to hospitality.
What can Texas employers do about the skills gap?
Here are some recommendations to help Texas employers address the skills gap and find qualified candidates for any role.
Train existing employees & implement continuous training practices
Instead of hiring fresh, untrained candidates, consider training those you already have. If you implement continuous training at your company, entry-level employees will be able to move up to more skilled roles when they open up. This is a great option for companies experiencing a shortage of candidates for roles that require a few years of hands-on experience.
An internal continuous learning program is also more likely to be responsive to the ever-changing needs of the industry than outside institutions and can be more organization-specific as well. Continuous training can be more cost-effective than waiting to retrain employees at the critical point.
There are lots of ways to train your current employees to help close skills gaps. Along with formal training such as workshops, training sessions, and seminars, you can also offer:
- Subscriptions to online courses and educational material
- Voluntary employee mentorship programs
- Opportunities to attend events and conferences
- Opportunities to obtain professional certifications like Project Management Professionals (PMP) or Professional Certified Marketer (PCM)
Cast a wider net
A majority of people say they’ll still apply for a job even if they don’t have every single one of the required skills in the job description. And with current unemployment levels hovering at very low rates, many employers are more open to hiring them. Check out these numbers:
Most professionals can be trained in certain areas, but those with the right soft skills and cultural fit are often harder to come by. So focus on finding the right people, even if there’s a gap in their skillset, and train them.
Look for candidates that emulate what makes your best employees great, whether it’s being team-oriented, great at details, empathetic, good communicators, or having other soft skills traits that are hard to train. Seek candidates that are eager, life-long learners. Those who are curious and hardworking are highly trainable.
These candidates could become great team members once they’ve gone through some extra training to help them fill the roles you need filled.
Finding ambitious young adults is easy at college job fairs or other career-focused events. Here are some listings of career events from local universities in major Texas cities:
- UT Austin Career Fair Calendar
- University of Houston Career Fair Calendar
- Texas A&M Career Fair Calendar
“Employers can take a proactive stance to develop the future leadership pipeline by partnering with educational institutions or community youth organizations to help them resource leadership opportunities.”Joel Wright, Innovation associate, Center for Creative Leadership
You can also consider companies like Year Up, who connect employers with young adults looking for career opportunities. Here’s how it works:
Hire a Texas PEO
With a PEO, you get access to a wider variety of benefits than your company could likely obtain on its own. This includes things like medical, dental and vision coverage, a health care flexible spending account, a retirement plan, life insurance, short-term and long-term disability insurance, and more. Access to better benefits and other competitive compensation package offerings can give you access to higher-quality, more qualified candidates.
In addition, a PEO can help you design an ideal recruitment process to fit your unique business, working with you to develop job descriptions, conduct wage research, and improve your hiring managers’ interview and candidate selection skills. A human resources partner can also help you onboard your hired candidates smoothly, keeping your turnover rate low.
Addressing the Texas skills gap
For growing Texas businesses looking to hire, the skills gap can present a daunting problem.
There’s a greater need for middle-skilled workers, and more and more businesses are not able to find qualified candidates. But by casting a wider recruitment net, implementing better training practices, partnering with local education institutions, and hiring a PEO to help you run your business better, you are well on your way to finding the perfect fit for every position in your company – now, and in the future.