CHRISTOPHER LEONARD | 10/ 4/09 08:05 PM |
In a brutal job market, here’s a task that might sound easy: Fill jobs in nursing, engineering and energy research that pay $55,000 to $60,000, plus benefits.
Yet even with 15 million people hunting for work, even with the unemployment rate nearing 10 percent, some employers can’t find enough qualified people for good-paying career jobs.
Ask Steve Jones, a hospital recruiter in Indianapolis who’s struggling to find qualified nurses, pharmacists and MRI technicians. Or Ed Baker, who’s looking to hire at a U.S. Energy Department research lab in Richland, Wash., for $60,000 each.
Economists say the main problem is a mismatch between available work and people qualified to do it. Millions of jobs with attractive pay and benefits that once drew legions of workers to the auto industry, construction, Wall Street and other sectors are gone, probably for good. And those who lost those jobs generally lack the right experience for new positions popping up in health care, energy and engineering.
Many of these specialized jobs were hard to fill even before the recession. But during downturns, recruiters tend to become even choosier, less willing to take financial risks on untested workers.
The mismatch between job opening and job seeker is likely to persist even as the economy strengthens and begins to add jobs. It also will make it harder for the unemployment rate, now at 9.8 percent, to drop down to a healthier level.