Engineers and machinists top the list of 10 jobs U.S. companies have difficulty finding qualified employees to fill, according to a report released Tuesday.
The study, conducted by Milwaukee-based Manpower Inc. showed skilled trades, technicians, sales representatives, accounting and finance, mechanics, general laborers, IT staff and production operators were also among the jobs U.S. businesses had the hardest time finding workers for.
Susan Piacenza, associate director of the University of Wisconsin Engineering Career Center, said she was not surprised to see engineers on the top of the list and pointed to the challenges many employers are starting to think about with the Baby Boomers reaching retirement age.
“The problem is that a lot of these bright and capable engineering students aren’t wanting to do the old kinds of jobs or they are wanting more challenges or excitement,” Piacenza said. “So companies have to be innovative and progressive in providing a challenging work environment.”
Manpower Inc. spokesperson Paul Holley said the jobs on the list tend to fluctuate from year to year.
“I think it’s important to note that there are always needs for various types of positions, and just because something is not on the list doesn’t mean that the need is not out there,” Holley said.
According to Holley, employers are also looking for more than just competency to do a job but traits like good communication, abilities to solve problems, teamwork and leadership skills.
Leslie Kohlberg, director of the College of Letters and Science Career Services offices, said students need to know what they want to do for a career and not just try to go for the hottest jobs. Kohlberg thinks the biggest challenge for job seekers is communication.
“Students who have had a chance to explore career opportunities and had a few that really interest them do a much more effective job communicating why they should hire them,” Kohlberg said.
In Wisconsin, Senate Democrats tried to pass a measure that would add $5 million to expand a program last session that helps residents acquire skills from technical schools.
Democrats said the bill would also close the current loophole allowing businesses to incorporate in places like Nevada so they do not have to pay state taxes.
The measure passed on a party-line vote in the Senate but was not taken up by the Assembly, according to Carrie Lynch, a spokesperson for Senate Majority Leader Russ Decker, D-Weston.
“We’ll try again next session, and we’ll try everything we can to get funding for the training people need,” Lynch said. “It’s good for Wisconsin businesses and Wisconsin’s economy to get these jobs filled.”
Opponents of the bill, such as Sen. Glenn Grothman, R-West Bend, said Wisconsin does need more people with technical skills but disagrees with increasing taxes on businesses.
“They call it the ‘Las Vegas loophole,’ but you would be chasing jobs out of Wisconsin,” Grothman said. “I don’t think raising taxes on business is good way to help businesses in Wisconsin.”
Steve Schroeder, director of the UW Business Career Center, said sales representatives are hard to find because they have a negative connotation with a lot of people.
“It’s the example of the pushy, used-car salesman. We all have experience with them or know people who have, and people don’t want to do that,” Schroeder said. “But that’s not really what sales is.”