puzzle_gapAs staffing professionals, we are all aware that some jobs are more difficult to fill than others.

Previously, we had to rely on our intuition to know these occupations; however, beginning late last year, the American Staffing Association, in partnership with Career Builder, released its new Skills Gap Index. The metric is an aid for those who follow the economy and staffing industry, but it is also used by those of us in the industry so that we can develop solutions and strategies for clients.

According to ASA, the skills gap looks at several factors in developing how challenging an occupation is to fill. Metrics, including the number of qualified people in an occupation, demand for the occupation, and average salary, are taken into consideration to determine the “hiring indicator.” Any occupation with a hiring indicator of less than 50 is considered “hardest-to-fill.” Nationally, in the third quarter of 2014, there were 207 of these types of occupations.

It’s important for staffing firms to understand the new ASA Skills Gap Index because it helps both the firm and the client understand the level of effort that will be required when recruiting for these openings. It also prevents unwelcome surprises for the client. Since these positions are difficult to fill, this translates into knowing that the recruiting process is likely to be time and resource consuming. The client must be on board with the additional expense for the level of effort. And, having all parties understand the process – and proper pay rates – will save everyone time and potential heartache.

Having identified the hardest-to-fill occupations using quantifiable metrics also allows staffing firms to know in advance that placement specialists will have to have additional skill-sets beyond the norm when taking on the challenge of recruiting for these positions. The right team must be in place that has their own knowledge and information about the occupation in order to effectively communicate and advocate as the intermediary between the client and the candidate.

The staffing firm also has to have the right mindset when trying to fill the needs of the client. Staffing firms must ensure that we remember we are in the people business. By having a hands-on, personal approach to the work of recruiting, the candidate experience will improve and, ultimately, the firm will achieve its objective of matching the right candidate for the client.

In the last release of the ASA Skills Gap Index, they identified 10 occupations nationwide that are among the most difficult to fill.

1. Occupational therapists
2. Physical therapists
3. Truck drivers, heavy and tractor-trailer
4. Occupational therapist assistants
5. Speech-language pathologists
6. Physician assistants
7. Merchandise displayers and window trimmers
8. Physical therapist assistants
9. Nursing instructors and teachers, postsecondary
10. Computer software engineers, applications

It should be noted that six of the top ten are related to the healthcare industry.

Clients are looking for qualified, experienced personnel. Candidates are willing to supply that resource, but only for the right price – a price that exceeds their opportunity cost. And, there is a sunk cost for any staffing firm in helping put the two together.

What the skills gap index provides us is a quantifiable supply and demand signal that previously went unmeasured in a standardized manner.

From our perspective, one of the benefits of using COATS Staffing Software is the ability to track the demand for your candidates. By having a one-stop system where you can correlate skills, pay rates, employment history, and other pertinent information, you are able to see how your particular firm relates to the ASA Skills Index.

COATS has positioned itself to help you manage all your staffing needs – including fulfilling those “hardest-to-fill” positions. With parsing, skills tracking and searching, along with contact management, our software will help you manage the “skills gap” with certainty.

On Feb. 3, ASA will release its next Skills Gap Index for the fourth quarter and it will be interesting to see if anything has changed. The index can be found on the ASA Website, https://americanstaffing.net in their research and data section.

Intuition has served the staffing industry well for decades. Now there are metrics to back it up.

Looking for a strategic partner? Then schedule a COATS Demo today!

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