An Inside Look at the Dire Need for Technical Talent

HIGHLIGHTS

As the talent shortage continues to grow, companies need to focus more on growing a global workforce.

Fletcher Wimbush, Chief Hiring Guru at The Hire Talent, has seen it all. Yet, after more than ten years evaluating employee skills, placing candidates in high-level positions and coaching businesses on top hiring practices, even Wimbush is flummoxed by the increasing talent shortage, believing it to be the worst he’s ever experienced.

“There is an extreme shortage of talent across the board. Employers who need specific types of skill sets will have to look outside of the U.S. to the find them. Folks that are trained in math, sciences, engineering and technical fields are not readily available here, so companies really are forced to look elsewhere for continued growth,” Wimbush says.

According to a recently released Envoy survey, 2017 Immigration Trends Report, 55 percent of employers expect their foreign national headcount to increase in the coming year, while 20 percent believe the increase will be “significant.” These statistics are unsurprising given that many roles currently sitting vacant, as Wimbush mentioned, are STEM-related, with the U.S. Department of Labor estimating that there will be about 2.4 million unfilled STEM jobs by 2018.

Interestingly, 83 percent of survey respondents believe the U.S. immigration system has an impact on their company’s hiring and retention strategies. With the current disruption and uncertainty surrounding immigration regulations under the Trump administration, Wimbush believes the talent shortage will continue to increase given that more often than not, the biggest barrier his clients face is often compliance. The more regulations that are placed on companies trying to hire foreign nationals will only further serve as an impediment to making an offer and filling an empty role.

One solution to the labor shortage, Wimbush suggests, is to start developing and training people internally. Perhaps employees can start at lower-level roles while the company supplements their education with needed coursework or on-the-job training. “Employers need to create these skill sets informally on the job but also have a formal worker program in place ready to go when talent is available,” he says. “These days, you really need to approach it from every angle.”

As a way to combat these issues long term, Wimbush believes that putting a greater focus on STEM education in the U.S. may be the solution to the technical workforce. While President Obama had taken a keen interest in this issue, calling on the country to “develop, recruit and retain 100,000 excellent STEM teachers over the next ten years” it is still unclear as to whether President Trump will follow through with these initiatives.

What is clear, however, is that companies must reevaluate their talent management strategies in order to more effectively acquire and retain global talent to succeed in an evolving marketplace or risk being left behind.