Letter From the Editor

March 2013

Hard-to-Fill Jobs: It’s Complicated

We’ve heard a lot in recent years about the skills gap and the difficulties employers face in finding qualified job candidates for certain occupations. But if DEED’s recent Hiring Difficulties Study is any indication, the challenge of filling skilled positions is more complex than that.

The study, released in early March by the agency’s Labor Market Information Office, found that a lack of qualified job candidates is only part of the reason employers are struggling to fill some jobs. Uncompetitive wages and undesirable job locations or work shifts are among other factors.

As DEED research director Steve Hine put it, “There’s no one-size-fits-all reason. It’s complicated.”

A story by Alessia Leibert in this issue zeroes in on one of the occupations that was examined in the study — registered nurses. According to the story, a lack of skilled candidates was a factor in a small fraction of the registered nursing jobs that health-care employers in Minnesota said were hard to fill during the period studied. Instead, less-than-attractive job, firm or industry characteristics, and location mismatches were the prime factors in most of the hard-to-fill openings for registered nursing according to Leibert.

This isn’t the last time you will hear about this research. DEED analysts examined five other occupations during the study and are already working on a second round of employer interviews that will look at other occupations.

This issue’s cover story by Mark Schultz and Rachel Vilsack looks at careers in law enforcement in Minnesota, focusing on people who work in that sector and examining the outlook for jobs. Elsewhere, Brent Pearson looks at hiring demand for welders in southern Minnesota, while Amy Gehring reviewed data to find out what happened to nearly 78,000 students who attended Minnesota community and technical colleges in the fall of 2009 but didn’t return the following fall. Finally, Dave Senf contributes a story that looks at how employment has shifted in certain occupations in recent years.

Monte Hanson
Editor