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Is a Labor Shortage Looming?

November 29th, 2010 :: Rieva_L

By Rieva Lesonsky

You probably did a double-take when you read that headline. With unemployment at record highs, the idea of a labor shortage anytime in the near future might seem like a joke. But according to the recently released College and Career Readiness Report by ACT Inc., that’s what the U.S. could be facing in fewer than 10 years, reports Human Resource Executive.

ACT Inc., which administers the ACT college admissions exam, says the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ projected job openings for 2018 don’t match the career goals of today’s high school graduates. For example, while 16 percent of all job openings in 2018 will be in education, only 9 percent of 2010 graduates want to enter that field.

Other industries showed similar disparities, including computer science (11 percent of projected job openings vs. 2 percent interest from 2010 grads); marketing (8 percent vs. 2 percent); and management (9 percent vs. 7 percent).

And in some industries, such as engineering and healthcare, the labor shortage is already here, says Joyce Goia, president and CEO of The Herman Group, a trend watching organization.

A lack of interest in certain fields isn’t the only reason ACT projects a labor shortage. A lack of ability is another. Even among the high-school grads who were interested in the five fastest-growing careers projected for 2018, fewer than half of them passed college readiness benchmarks for English, math, science and reading.

In today’s economy, when small businesses are hiring, they’re often turning to part-timers, interns and entry level employees whose salaries are more affordable than older workers. So you may already be seeing some of what ACT is talking about in the young job candidates you talk to.

Will today’s high school and college students be ready to work for your business when you need it? If you’re concerned about a labor shortage affecting your business, what can you do? Human Resource Executive recommends businesses get proactive. If you feel that qualified workers in your industry are getting harder to find, get involved in high school and college organizations that can help educate young people about your industry and its potential for their futures.

Image by Flickr user bpsusf (Creative Commons)

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