Sat | Aug 19, 2017

Ready workers wanted - Firms struggle to find new employees

Published:Wednesday | May 3, 2017 | 5:00 AMArthur Hall

Several Jamaican entities looking to employ persons in the period 2014 to 2016 faced great difficulties as many of those who applied for the jobs were just not ready for the working world.

That’s one of the findings of the just released Ministry of Labour and Social Security commissioned 2017 National Labour Market Survey.

According to the survey, 57 per cent of the firms filled the vacancies that were available in their organisations during the course of the past 24 months.

But the 43 per cent of entities which were unable to fill vacancies said these were mainly skilled positions with only 37 per cent for unskilled positions.

With the last statistics for 2016 showing that the unemployment rate was 12.9 per cent and 32.4 per cent for persons between the ages of 14 and 24, most companies would have expected to fill vacancies easily but that was not to be.

The survey, which covered 660 firms from all sectors, found that lack of work experience (32 per cent), underqualified applicants (26 per cent) and bad impression of applicants during interviews (20 per cent) were the top three difficulties entities encountered during the hiring process.

Lack of work experience was a particular challenge for firms in the industries of hotels and restaurant services, transport, storage and communication and construction.

Firms in manufacturing, construction and transport, storage and communication were primarily those encountering challenges with underqualified applicants.

Persons who gave a bad impression during the interview process were mainly encountered by businesses from financial intermediation, hotels and restaurant services, wholesale, retail trade and repairs.

The survey found that one in every four firms interviewed, reported that they opted not to hire staff although they needed to, and this choice was driven by their inability to afford doing so.

But for those entities who decided to go ahead and employ, the key factor which influenced their decision was knowledge and skills specific to the position.

More than half of the firms surveyed required persons who were responsible and committed, while close to half looked for prior work experience.

Newspapers still rule
Jamaican firms looking for new workers continued to use the newspaper as their preferred forum to advertise vacancies.

Forty-four per cent of the firms which participated in the Ministry of Labour and Social Security commissioned 2017 National Labour Market Survey advertised in the newspaper.

Other common sources for advertising included informal networks (40 per cent), internal database/records (18 per cent), employment websites (13 per cent), universities and colleges (11 per cent) and skills training institutions (13 per cent).

There was a clear relationship between skills required and the sources used for advertising vacancies.

Firms typically relied on the formal media when seeking to fill the more “white collar” positions, such as professional/technical and managerial staff.

They relied on informal networks when seeking to fill “blue collar” positions such as skilled and unskilled workers in production and services.

Difficulties faced when hiring staff
Lack of work experience 32 per cent
Underqualified applicants 26 per cent
Bad impression during interview 20 per cent
Compensation demands 18 per cent
Overqualified applicants 13 per cent
Lack of reliable information on qualification and experience 10 per cent
Shortage of required skill in Jamaica 9 per cent