Is There Really a Skilled Labor Shortage in America?

30 Mar 2015 Bryan Shaw


One consistent trend we continue to hear post-recession centers around the belief that there’s a skilled labor shortage in America. Being on the front lines in this “War for Talent,” we at STS Technical Services experience, every day, a high demand for skilled workers capable of performing CNC machining, welding, diesel engine repair and more. So is there truly a gap in the supply vs. demand equation? Let’s take a look at some numbers.

According to the non-profit SkillsUSA, we have:

  • 600,000 skilled labor jobs going unfilled
  • We’ll need 10 million new skilled workers by 2020
  • 83% of all companies report a moderate to severe shortage of skilled workers
  • 69% expect the gap to grow worse in the next 3-5 years
  • 86% of Americans think these skilled workers are important, BUT…..

Only 1 in 3 Americans would encourage their child to obtain such skills.

Clearly, there are no easy answers here. Our culture has to see these well-paying opportunities for what they really are and not what they aren’t.

Demand is outpacing supply and, true to form, we are seeing wages increase for such labor. These are good jobs with long-term viability so why aren’t we producing the talent we need to fill them?

For starters, our culture needs to remove the skilled-labor stigma that comes from these jobs not being behind a desk and therefore unworthy of a career. In addition, we need to embrace the power of social media as a tool of major influence over a society that continues to define skilled labor careers as unworthy pursuits. Social media, whether we like it or not, has the power to remove this stigma, and this is one of many reasons we at STS Technical Services harness the power of multiple social platforms. We encourage you to “Like” our posts on Facebook, favorite our tweets and read our blog. We do this, in part, because our articles and posts contain useful information while helping us reach out to those 109 million Americans on government assistance and not presently in the workforce.

Given the commonalities that exist between the shortage of skilled laborers and the stigma attached to skilled labor careers, how do companies like ours stay competitive in this war for talent? For one, it helps to have an effective partner to help solve the problem of skilled labor shortage. At STS, for example, we embrace talent acquisition as a strategy and not a reaction. Being proactive by building pipelines and developing sourcing initiatives well in advance of actual needs is the best way to adequately prepare for successful hiring programs to obtain such labor, and social media is an integral part of that strategy.

Keep in mind that waiting for the right person to apply on a major job board is not a strategy. Hope is not a plan. Reaching out to those with in-demand skills, on their turf and within their comfort zone, is a small part of the hiring equation we employ at STS. Networking among them is certainly another part of that solution.

At STS Technical Services, our team is fully committed to supporting the skilled labor workforce, and we proudly invite you all to come see us at SkillsUSA in Madison, WI, on April 28 – 30th. Not only will I be in attendance, STS’ best in-class recruiters will also be there, and we’re very much looking forward to meet you.

Come join us and let’s discuss how we can change the skilled labor stigma and effectively staff this workforce one qualified professional at a time. Together, we can make a difference and change lives by putting people to work all over the country.

We look forward to meeting our next generation of skilled workers, and if you have any questions, feel free to give us a call at 1-800-447-0515. Thanks!