Employers Blame Talent Shortage on Lack of "Hard" Skills

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Can it be possible that with so many trained professionals seeking positions these days in finance, employers can't find the right talent for the jobs they want to fill? That's what a new survey claims, and the reasons most often cited are "lack of hard or technical skills" and "lack of experience" on the part of potential candidates.

A 2011 ManpowerGroup survey reports that in the U.S., Canada and Latin America, several "candidate-specific" factors top the list of reasons why organizations are having difficulty filling positions.

Breaking things down by U.S.-only results, Wharton professor and HR specialist Peter Cappelli, writes the ManpowerGroup survey found:

- 47 percent of job prospects lack "hard" or technical skill,

- 35 percent lack adequate experience, and

- 25 percent lack business knowledge or formal qualifications.

In addition, Manpower finds:

- 52 percent of U.S. job prospects are looking for better pay than is offered.

"There's been a macro-shift toward the hyper-specialization of work," Nick Leopard, CEO of investment consulting firm Accordion Partners, LLC, told eFinancialCareers. It's no longer as desirable to hire generalists doing "B-plus" work across the board as it is to hire someone with focused expertise and the technical skills to deliver an A-plus product, he adds.

Accordion Partners is a SoHo-based firm in New York City offering project-based work to investment bankers who support private equity portfolio companies, I-banks and other firms requiring consulting services.

"Today's investment banks require a more flexible cost structure to match the volatility of their deal flow," Leopard says, which is why some employers will turn to a firm like Accordion to fill their limited-term assignments without having to take someone on over the long haul, guaranteeing them salary and benefits.

This way, he says, banks can avoid the traditional volatility in hiring and firing and create a more efficient personnel model.

The Manpower survey finds that in the Americas, 32 percent of employers hope to deal with their perceived talent shortage by providing additional training to existing staff. That's better than globally, where just one in five employers is concentrating on training and development to fill the talent gap they describe, and worldwide a mere 6 percent of employers are working more closely with educational institutions to create curriculums that close knowledge gaps, Manpower states. Across the Americas that figure is just 7 percent.

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