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Skilled Worker Shortage a Big Problem for U.S. Organizations

New survey reports that employers are hiring foreign nationals to alleviate U.S. skill shortages

In a new survey, by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM),  half of the human resource (HR) professionals polled say that new workers lack some competencies, and many organizations are recruiting skilled workers from outside of the United States to fill skills gaps. These major findings, in the 2006 Access to Human Capital and Employment Verification Survey, are based on responses from 489 HR professionals. 

Respondents cite overall professionalism, analytical skills, business knowledge, and written and verbal communication as the skills that new employees lack most frequently. More than 25% of the respondents also indicate that there is a shortage of qualified candidates in positions that require degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. To address the skills shortage, organizations are offering undergraduate educational assistance (59%), graduate educational assistance (48%), job-related skills training (55%), and internships (38%).

"It will take a collaborative effort by all the stakeholders — workers, government, the business and academic communities, and the HR profession — to reverse the skills shortage trend," said Susan R. Meisinger, SPHR, president and CEO of SHRM.  "A skilled workforce is vital for America's future economic health."

In addition to providing educational assistance to close the skills gaps, 29% of HR professionals surveyed say that they hire foreign nationals when they cannot find a U.S. worker with the necessary competencies or skills.  However, respondents indicate several challenges organizations face when recruiting and hiring foreign nationals, including visas/green card processing delays (64%), an overly complex visa/green card process (55%) and excessive processing fees (42%).

The survey also highlights other issues HR professionals are dealing with, including U.S. immigration policies, employment-based immigration programs and employment verification — all of which are affecting the workplace.


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