The 2020 Mid-Year Economic Update_long

Talent Gap Tarnishes Latest Jobs Report

National numbers back up distributor, manufacturer complaints of unqualified workforce.

In its monthly Small Business Economic Trends survey,NFIB noted that small-business owners have been hiring at a decent rate during 2015, even though the net percent of owners increasing employment fell 1 percentage point, down from the December high.

Yet a key issue emerged, one that has plagued distribution and manufacturing for years and now seems to have taken hold nationally: 27 percent of all owners reported job openings they could not fill in the current period, up 3 points from March.

A net 11 percent of owners plan to create new jobs in the coming months, which is up a point. And while 53 percent of owners reported hiring or trying to hire, 44 percent of them reported few or no qualified applicants for the positions they were trying to fill. 

This was a top trend to watch in 2015, according to MDM's Industry Outlook Survey taken at the end of last year.In the survey, respondents repeatedly referred to the growing talent gap in wholesale distribution, using terms such as “labor shortage,” “shortage of qualified/skilled workers,” “access to affordable talent” or “shrinking talent pool” to describe their plight.

To combat this problem, companies are taking different approaches to finding talent, and one tactic that distributors have deployed is aligning with colleges with industrial distribution programs to get an inside track on recruitment.

“The thing that I can’t underscore enough, if companies want to be successful in their recruiting efforts, is aligning themselves with institutions that fit culturally with their organization, and then taking the time and energy to increase the level of familiarity with the students, so they really know what they’re getting,” Kyle Buxton, area leader for WinWholesale, told MDM last year.

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