The skills gap is a complex issue, with lots of disagreement about causes and solutions.
In a MOM report, employers are struggling to fill up PMET roles, citing reasons such as the lack of experience and qualifications.
But is there really a Skills Gap?
The “Skills Gap” Is a Convenient Myth
Peter Cappelli, Author of “Why Good People Can’t Get Jobs: The Skills Gap and What Companies Can Do About It” mentioned in an article that employers admit that the problem is really that candidates they want won’t accept the positions at the wage level being offered.
The real reason is the unwillingness to pay the going price.
However, according to MOM report in 2015, there were 116 vacancies for every 100 job seekers.
The tight labour market, with more jobs than job seekers, will continue to put pressure on wages.
However, what has them worried is that “almost seven of out 10 (67%) of open positions were deemed as “hard to fill by locals”, MOM said.
Thus, with more research being carried out all throughout the world, claiming the difficulty in hiring skilled workers, is the skills gap simply self-inflicted?
Growing Demand for Niche Skills
A perceived deficit in skilled workers is certainly real, although the reason for the unfilled job openings remains a topic of debate, shaded by differing opinions and theories.
Nevertheless, industries, they do require a high concentration of positions that require extremely niche skills, certifications and degrees, which cannot be found easily in the market.
Recruiting for such new, specialized, or technical positions requires a different approach and new recruiting methods.
For example, demand in Finance industry requiring niche skills are quickly outstripping the supply.
“Banks are looking for niche skills and candidates who have specific banking, information technology and automation experience,” said Mr George McFerran, global sales and marketing director at careers portal eFinancialCareers.
Data analyst jobs are on the rise at DBS Bank as it makes use of data analytics to monitor automatically for trigger events, said a DBS spokesman.
In manufacturing, there has been a 5 per cent rise in demand each year for automation-related engineers over the past five years, said Ms Linda Teo, country manager at recruitment firm ManpowerGroup Singapore.
While the tertiary industries have added more related programmes and specializations, industries will face difficult in recruiting such talent over the next few years.
Sourcing Secrets for Finding Niche Talent
When hiring niche or rare talent, you’re confronted with several challenges.
There’s the fiercely competitive market, an absence of talent when you need it, and the frustration of matching the perfect candidate to a role only to discover that person is no longer available.
Finding niche talent can feel challenging.
However, it doesn’t have to be that way.
Sourcing specialist talent may mean you are dipping into a small talent pool, but that shouldn’t stop you from thinking big.
One of the ways to overcome the small talent pool in Singapore is to go global.
Sourcing internationally dramatically widens your talent pool, gives you access to the best skills and experience in the industry and increases your firm’s competitive advantage.
This was the case for SUTD as when they started building up the new university.
Anthony Keh, Head of Resourcing & Employee Relations, Senior Assistant Director, Human Resources from SUTD shares a few practical tips in search for niche talents.
- Be at their Networks and associations
- You need a “poster girl or poster boy” to draw the attention to your new, niche role – Someone influential & senior in this circuit
- Take, for instance, that Singapore wants to be a Hub in this field, but we don’t yet truly have the talent in this area. SUTD sent their Head Honcho in Cybersecurity to speak at conferences in the Bay area, in the UK, at the Hague. And at these industry sessions, they have the backing of our Singapore EDB, who were instrumental in adding weight to our recruiting strategy. So now, people know what they are doing.
- Get someone senior in your management to speak about this new business – Promote that statement
- Get a business partner (who might remotely be in these niche positions or may know of people in these niche areas) to bring you along at these conferences. They will be boring, but you have to do it.
Anthony is one of the pioneer team members assigned to the task of building up a full range of University HR operations from scratch; he has handled Talent Acquisition & Resourcing, Employee Relations, Employer Branding and Faculty Administration & Shared Services.
Join Anthony to learn more about the challenges and obstacles he faced as he tries to recruit niche talent not found in Singapore for our newly founded university. Register at New-Gen Recruiting Congress, 9 – 10 March, Singapore Marriott Tang Plaza today.