The Top 10 Hardest Jobs To Fill

November 12, 2014

The Top 10 Hardest Jobs to Fill

By John Rossheim, Monster Senior Contributing Writer

The economy is sputtering, and companies say they will make nothing but perfect-10 hires. Meanwhile, Baby Boomers are retiring by the millions — and everyone wants to be a millionaire, not a wage earner. Where does all this leave employers and workers in their never-ending struggle to tip the balance in the American labor market?

From the perspective of an annual survey commissioned by staffing firm Manpower, these dynamics yield a number of occupations for which openings are hard to fill. Among white-collar jobs, the following positions make Manpower’s 10 Hardest Jobs to Fill list: sales reps, nurses, technicians, restaurant/hotel workers, managers/executives, doctors/other clinical practitioners, engineers and customer service reps. And on the blue-collar side, skilled tradespeople and drivers make the top 10.

But labor-market power has shifted toward employers with the soft economy. In the prerecession year of 2007, Manpower’s survey of 2,000 US firms showed that 41 percent of employers reported difficulties filling positions; however, the 2010 tally found only about a third of that percentage of companies — 14 percent — reported recruitment was a struggle.

And many experts, especially labor advocates, take issue with the Manpower study’s conclusion that all these occupations are in shortage. “Our starting point at EPI is where most economists would start: If you don’t have low unemployment and rising wages, you don’t have a shortage,” says Ross Eisenbrey, vice president of the Economic Policy Institute (EPI).

So if you work in one of these occupations — or want to — what’s the real story? Let’s take a look at the survey results and get some perspective on what the shortages really mean.

White-Collar Occupations Blow in the Winds of Economic Change

With fuel prices spiking and oil and natural gas exploration heating up, demand for petroleum engineers is rising. Offshoring notwithstanding, “engineering is going to be around for awhile,” says Melanie Holmes, a vice president at Manpower North America. “Oil companies have employees averaging in their late 40s.”

Eisenbrey says EPI data shows labor shortages in a number of white-collar niches, from healthcare workers to librarians, farm managers, engineering managers and environmental scientists.

Some Blue-Collar Jobs Go Unfilled Even as Their Numbers Drop

Even after decades of manufacturing decline, employment of machinists is expected to drop another 5 percent between 2008 and 2018, according to the BLS.

“We’re at the very beginning of that decline; we haven’t necessarily gotten there yet,” says Holmes. “Even if machinists are declining, applicants are in short supply. Kids are not getting excited about going to tech and vocational schools.”

Labor advocates paint a different picture. “Employers are still not willing to pay what’s required,” says Eisenbrey. “It’s a shortage only at the rate that employers want to pay.”

The skilled trades rank high among blue-collar jobs that are hard to fill, according to the Manpower survey. Carpenters, welders, plumbers, electricians and masons are in demand, the survey says.

We Are On A Mission

August 23, 2014

After seeing what is happening in Ferguson, Mo. and all over the country. We are on a mission to get some of our youth and young adults out of that sense of hopelessness. Introducing the youth and young adults to the skilled trades and the job opportunities that come by having skills. We can either wait for someone else to create opportunities for our youth. Or create these opportunities ourselves.
Visit our website, then like us on Facebook and follow us on twitter.

America’s Skilled Trades Shortage

April 27, 2014

NSTN Newsletter April, 2014

America’s Skilled Trades Dilemma: Shortages Loom As Most-In-Demand Group Of Workers Ages

For the last three years, according to ManpowerGroup, the hardest segment of the workforce for employers to staff with skilled talent hasn’t been registered nurses or engineers or even web developers. It’s been the skilled trades – the welders, electricians, machinists, etc. that are so prevalent in manufacturing and construction.

But if these skilled-trades workers are difficult to find now, as Manpower’s survey indicates, just wait a few years. The skills gap is likely to become more acute.

In 2012, 53 percent of skilled-trade workers in the U.S. were 45 years and older, according to EMSI, and 18.6 percent were between the ages of 55 and 64. (We are using the Virginia Manufacturers Association’s definition of skilled trades, which encompasses 21 particular occupations.)

Contrast those numbers with the overall labor force, where 44 percent of workers were at least 45 years old, and 15.5 percent of jobs were held by the 55-to-64 demographic.

Those are just the national figures; in Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Jersey and New Hampshire, more than 60 percent of the skilled-trades labor force is 45 or older. Other Northeastern states such as Delaware, Maine and New York also have aging skilled-trades workforces, as do Illinois, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

What makes this issue more striking is that the skilled trades have far fewer 65-and-older workers than the total labor force (1.9 percent to 4.8 percent) – a clear sign that these jobs are more physically demanding than the typical job. So unlike other occupations, many skilled trades workers can’t hold off on retirement because they need the money or simply enjoy working.

“If the skills shortage is debatable today,” economic development consultant Brian Kelsey wrote last year, “it likely won’t be at some point in the future.”

The heavy proportion of older skilled-trade workers puts into focus more than just the pending retirement for baby boomers and oft-cited but rarely quantified gap between the skills that employers need and available workers possess. It also touches on the fact that American high schools have largely shifted their focus to preparing students for four-year colleges rather than vocational school.

But just as training to become a welder or computer controlled machine operator isn’t for everyone, pursuing a college degree doesn’t fit every student’s skill set.

“For two or three generations, the focus has been to go to college, get a degree and in doing so you will ensure a brighter future with more access to employment,” Genevieve Stevens, interim dean for instruction at Houston Community College’s central campus, told the Houston Chronicle. “We started focusing on academic instruction, but left behind the notion of work-force education. However, in a two-year institution that costs less, the average work-force student can come out of that program with skills to gain immediate employment.”

Skilled trades can provide a promising career path depending on a job seeker’s skills and location. However, some of these middle-skill occupations will need an influx of new talent sooner than others.

My Brothers Keeper

March 2, 2014

We commend President Obama on his new initiative, My Brothers Keeper. However, if the organiziations that are going to implement this new initiative in the minority communities are the same organizations that have been receiving funding to solve this problem for the past 20 years, not much will be accomplished. As we know doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result does not make sense. The problems in the minority community are economic not social.


December 27, 2013

“What is in the pencil is greater than what is around it. The talents in you are greater than the environment surrounding you. Your potentials will change your environment.” 
―    Israelmore Ayivor

Skilled Trades America’s Jennifer Brady Working to Promote the TradesSouth Coast Today

September 1, 2013

New Bedford native on skills trade crusade

NEW BEDFORD — Jennifer Brady appreciates the comforts of modern life — smooth streets, air conditioning and piping hot water running through her faucets. But she warns that if the country doesn’t set its priorities straight and foster a new generation of skilled workers, those comforts could be scarce in the decades ahead.

“We need to constantly promote the trades and let kids know that they do have other options after high school other than college,” she said.

Brady is calling attention to what she describes as a massive skills gap in the American economy, hundreds of thousands of job vacancies in the context of 7.6 percent unemployment.

She thinks that this stems in large part from mistaken thinking on the part of American pedagogy.

“Unfortunately as a teen I was told that the smart kids go to college and the not-so-smart kids will go take a trade and become a plumber, electrician, carpenter,” she said.

And it’s this mentality Brady is fighting to change. She’s promoting the efforts of “Dirty Jobs” host Mike Rowe, who illustrates the point by recalling a poster on the wall of a guidance counselor in 1979 that read “Work Smart, Not Hard,” depicting a happy college graduate on one side and a miserable tradesman on the other.

Rowe’s group, mikeroweWORKS, produced a poster with a dejected college grad next to a happy tradesman with a computer in hand. “Work Smart And Hard,” the poster reads.

Born in New Bedford, Brady now lives in Euless, Texas, where she established Skilled Trades=America, a nonprofit aimed at boosting awareness of the skills deficit and helping students pursue the trades.

She attended the SkillsUSA Championships in Kansas City in June, where 5,900 vocational students from across the country competed in 89 trades. Brady was proud that her father’s alma mater — Greater New Bedford Regional Vocational-Technical High School — took home five medals, while Massachusetts students won 38 medals this year, 13 of them gold.

Brady said her group raised money to assist the mikeroweWORKS Foundation, which helps students attend the event each year.

The Society of Civil Engineers’ gave the country’s infrastructure a D+ in its 2013 report, which comes out every four years. Since 1998 the grades have been near-failing, and although there was a slight increase this year, the future is troubling to some.

According to the SkillsUSA website, the average age of the American skilled worker is 56 — and by 2020 there will be a demand for 10 million bodies. And while 86 percent deem tradespeople important to economic prosperity, just one in three Americans would encourage their children to enter the trades.

Joan Menard, vice president for workforce development at Bristol Community Collage and board member of Diman Regional Vocational Technical High School in Fall River, says in an ideal world, the highest possible number of people would achieve higher education — regardless of their profession.

“When I try to counsel young women (I say) they can go as high as they wish in terms of education,” Menard said. “So if some people feel comfortable with the skills that they acquire in vocational training, I still would have this conversation: This is great — you have skills to prepare for a job, but there’s more.”

Menard said because of traditional values among some SouthCoast families, questions around women in the workforce and whether to attend university have tended toward conservatism.

“Generations of families always knew they could get a job in the textile industry or in manufacturing,” she said. “Then suddenly about 60 years ago it started to change and there was a realization that, ‘Wait a minute, my son might not be able to get a job in this factory that I work in and we should be thinking about school for them.’”

Brian Pastori of Community Economic Development Center — and a candidate for New Bedford School Committee — praised the value of vocational education.

“I think in the past college was the way to succeed and get into the middle class,” Pastori said. “But with costs increasing over the last 20 years, it becomes less and less feasible for kids to go to college.”

Pastori said studying to become a doctor and lawyer can make financial sense, but in fields such as public service it’s hard to make that argument.

“Each person is different and there’s a lot of kids who should go to college … but there’s also a lot of students who should maybe look at vocational skill instead.”

That’s a message embraced by Michael Gagliardi, career and technical ducation principal at GNB Voc-Technical High School. But he’s happy to see Voc-Tech students go on to higher education.

“Although that certainly is true that people can leave this school and go right out into the work force, a great number of our students are moving on,” he said.

In spite of the increase in attendance at Voc-Tech — with over 1,000 applicants for the incoming class of 575 freshmen — Gagliardi acknowledged that it’s not for everybody, for example an aspiring musician, as there are no music classes at the school. But that’s the minority.

“You’ve got to remember that you’re talking to somebody that’s a huge proponent,” he added. “I think it would be beneficial for 90 percent of young people to come to a school like this. That’s why vocational-technical education is seeing such a renaissance.”

Asked if a greater share of school funds should be directed toward vocational education, Gagliardi dissented.

“Maybe we should fund education altogether to a greater degree,” he said. “And maybe some of the others things that we spend money on we need to reassess.”

The Perfect Storm for Construction Skilled Trades by Daniel Groves on Mon, 04/01/2013

September 1, 2013

The construction industry is facing a perfect storm of issues, which will result in severe skilled workforce shortages in the near future. The Construction Labor Market Analyzer® (CLMA) provides the reliable data that Owners and contractors need to plan their future projects to avoid higher labor costs and missed schedules because of skilled trade shortages. The CLMA® also provides regional trend information by craft to focus new recruiting and training programs to the critical needs of the industry.

The History When the construction volume peaked in 2006 to 2008, there were more projects than there were skilled trades to work on them. Competition for skills increased wages and incentives, which resulted in busted budgets, missed schedules and sometimes, cancelled projects. Contractors were using extended overtime, per diems, completion bonuses and other innovative approaches to staff their projects. Owners were experiencing higher costs and delayed startups, and were even cancelling projects because of high labor cost estimates.

The Current Situation Currently, skill trade availability is not perceived as a pressing issue for the construction industry. The benches are relatively full and projects are easily staffed. The current surplus has caused many in the industry to move away from workforce development. With high unemployment, there is less incentive to develop our future workforce. But, as the construction industry rebounds in the future, Owners and contractors will find that the pool of skilled trades has been significantly reduced. The workers that we all counted on will no longer be available. There is a perfect storm of conditions, all of which are reducing the skilled workforce pool for the construction industry. The following are all current issues that will affect how we staff future projects.

One: High Unemployment During the Recession Recent reports of lower unemployment are because more people are leaving the industry in search of work in other areas.
“The fact that the construction industry unemployment rate in August declined to 11.3 percent – the lowest level since October 2008 – seemed to be a pleasant surprise,” said Associated Builders and Contractors Chief Economist Anirban Basu. “But under further examination, this is largely due to former construction workers moving to other industries or leaving the workforce all together.”
For example, some construction workers are moving into the expanded oil and gas fracking industry, which is booming with consistent high employment and a bright future for further expansion.

Two: Limited Jobs to Recruit New Workers It is difficult, if not impossible, to recruit new workers to the construction industry when there are not any jobs for them to earn an income during the training. Few companies are recruiting when they are currently focused on maintaining their core workforce and surviving the downturn.

Three: Connecting With the Millennial Generation The current trend in schools and government is to strongly encourage college education. There is little or no focus on developing skilled trades for the industry. Vocational and adult education now focus on jobs in health, finance, IT, public works, etc. Manufacturing and the construction industry do not have a pool of potential young workers to fill future skilled trade positions.

Four: Minorities and Women Have not Joined the Construction Industry In the past, there were forecasts that the construction industries workforce would be more diverse with minority and women participation increasing. For many reasons, except for Hispanics, this has not happened significantly.

Five: Baby Boomers are Retiring The construction industry will see a significant reduction in skilled, experienced workers as more baby boomers reach retirement age over the next 5 to 10 years.

What Can be Done? With all of these trends, the construction industry of the future will be different from the past. We can no longer count on having the right skilled trades to staff our projects. These changes will require significant better planning and management of our projects, including:

  • Planning projects based on skilled workforce availability: Using tools like the Construction Labor Market Analyzer® (CLMA) to identify trends in skilled workforce supply and demand will be essential to planning future successful projects. Without this planning, projects will experience unexpected higher costs or delayed schedules as contractors are not able to staff projects.
  • New innovative approaches to building projects with less labor.  Using new materials, vendor supplied assemblies, off-site prefabrication and modularization will all be required to complete projects with less labor available on-site.
  • New commitment to recruiting and training: Owners and contractors will need to collaborate and identify new innovative approaches that will result in bringing more skilled workers to the industry. In this area, the CLMA® can provide reliable data on the potential skilled craft shortages so recruiting can be focused and effective on the most critical trades.

The skilled trades must be brought into the 21st century for minorities.

August 30, 2013

The skilled trades must be brought into the 21st century for minorities.

 “Early in this century, vocational programs in the North and South were used to the detriment of Blacks. In the North, Black children were allowed to elect an array of shop classes, even though Blacks had no outlets for their acquired skills because of closed union shops in skilled trades. Blacks did use their Southern vocational program skills within their own segregated communities. White business also used skilled Black labor but kept them locked in to low level jobs. Thus, White business owners in the South and unions in the North closed out Blacks, and reduced the value of their vocational training.” -Dr. Claude Anderson, Ed.D

African American Artisans

August 25, 2013

Historically Blacks were skilled artisans and craftsmen at the highest level.

Blacks were desired so badly by White Europeans that they were willing to build thousands of ships over hundreds of years to sail thousands of miles over treacherous ocean to start wars with those Black people to capture them, bring them back thousands of miles to enslave them forever, to serve Whites forever. Blacks had built civilizations on the African continent that Whites hoped to build in America. A close reading of the newspaper advertisements placed by American slave dealers and slave traders shows that Blacks were skilled artisans and craftsmen at the highest level. It is easy to find ads by White people selling engineers, carpenters, mechanics, brick masons, nurses, blacksmiths, seamstresses, and bakers.


Blacks so dominated the building trades that after the so-called emancipation of 1863, it was said that if a White man were seen doing ANY of this kind of work, it would draw a crowd of gawking onlookers. Black slaves were on loan to build the “President’s House” and the Capitol; Black slaves built the mansions that grace Southern plantations. Black slave laborers built America’s infrastructure, including its buildings, roads, bridges, and railways. Blacks built America—just as they built the pyramids in Egypt—and then gave civilization to the new man on earth, the European.

Sources:  “The Erection of the White House,” Records of the Columbia Historical Society, vol. 16 (1913); William Seale, The President’s House (1986).

Fifty percent ( 50% ) of three Generations have lost the opportunity to become artisans in the skilled trades. Do to the misconception that working with your hands and physical work is demeaning. Modern tools have taken that excuse away.

This is a listing of recent generations for individuals born in the United States. Dates are approximate, as recognized by demographers.

2000/2001-Present – New Silent Generation or Generation Z
1980-2000 – Millennials or Generation Y
1965-1979 – Generation X ( Is when the skilled trades decline began for black males )
1946-1964 – Baby Boom
1925-1945 – Silent Generation
1900-1924 – G.I. Generation




Black males are artisans by nature. God given if you will. These skills were why Africans were enslaved.

It is against natural order for black males to be pushed only into becoming intellectuals.

It is natural for black males to create, build and problem solve. This is where black males can express their true freedom.


Black males are visual as well as intellectual. Black Males naturally visualize a process from beginning to end while solving unforeseen issues along the way.  


These skills were passed down from generation to generation. If we do not use the last generation (Baby Boomers), that have mastered these skills. This resource will be lost forever and black males may never recover as a viable work force in the future.


NSTN Believes In Self Help

July 14, 2013

The African American community must take the George Zimmerman not guilty verdict as a sign.  We must become accountable and stand up for our children. Has the dollar blinded us to the modern day physcological slavery we find ourselves in. Are we willing to sacrafice our children for acceptance in a society that everyday says to us, you will never be accepted as an equal. Example “Barack Obama”.  If you stand for nothing you will stand for anything.

The National Skilled Trades Network wants to make a difference.