- All the indicators confirm it’s an applicant market in the U.S. With unemployment at 4.1% in January, The Conference Board is reporting that it’s now more difficult to hire qualified workers than it was in 2007, the last year the labor market was as tight.
- For business, the increase in the “time to fill” an opening has already surpassed 2007 levels: it takes 25% longer to fill a vacancy, the group says. Available data seems to indicate that, when the applicant pool was rich, employers “upskilled” job description and postings and were able to choose a pool of ideal candidates.
- According to two economists with The Conference Board, employers who were accustomed to the higher level of qualifications may be reluctant to adjust them for market conditions. But to overcome a tight market, employers may need to revisit their requirements and potentially "downskill" those ads to fill their openings.
With time-to-fill rates increasing, employers are realizing that something has to give. When the market simply can’t deliver on the qualifications you require (especially if those qualifications aren't 100% necessary), downskilling may be the only option. We’ve been seeing an ongoing a shift in hiring requirements in response to the tight labor market, with even major players like IBM eliminating the need for a four-year degree for some of their positions.
Skills-based hiring is not only thriving, it’s creating industries as well. Bootcamp-type schools with immersion training in tech are creating pipelines to employment. Apprenticeships are on the rise in the trades and even in white-collar fields. Some studies suggest apprentice opportunities have the potential to increase eight-fold in the coming years. Such changes could also help employers improve the diversity of their applicants, especially if they purposefully seek out alternative talent pools.
As employers struggle to fill vacancies in a tight labor pool, employers everywhere may need to adjust their expectations to the current reality of the job field.