Yes, the unemployment rate in this country is still high, and yes, there are still a lot of people in the marketplace looking for work.

However, that does not mean you have all the workers and employees you need.  As many companies are discovering, there is a distinct difference between unqualified job seekers and qualified candidates.  The reason they’re discovering this is that there are far more of the former than the latter.

Not only that, but the Baby Boomer Generation is in the midst of retiring, even though many members of that group have delayed their retirement.  They can’t delay it forever, though, and the void they’ll leave won’t be easily filled.  If there’s a shortage of highly qualified workers now, the situation might be even worse in five years.

What to do?

So what should you do if you’re facing such a situation or would like to avoid facing such a situation in the future (besides engaging the services of an experienced recruiter, that is)?  Below are six ways to combat a shortage of qualified workers:

  1. Take a close look at your succession planning.  That means you should be thinking, “If so-and-so leaves, what happens then?”  What would happen if your best employee gave you their two-week notice today?
  1. Examine opportunities for knowledge transfer.  Specifically, this means ways to transfer knowledge from your most experienced employees, the ones who may leave in the next one to five years, to those employees who are going to remain.  This could take the form of job shadowing, a mentoring program, or perhaps in-house training seminars.
  1. Study your compensation structure.  Is it competitive enough to hold the people you want to keep and to attract the people you’re going to need?  If not, it’s imperative to upgrade and improve your compensation.
  1. Implement a cross-training program.  In other words, strive to spread critical knowledge among your employees.  That way, if somebody leaves, there’s not a dead vacuum.  Someone else can pitch in for a while until a replacement is hired.
  1. Look at your recruiting situation.  Consider internships, cooperatives with universities, and campus recruiting.  Plan to hire more people with two or three years of experience.  Overstaffing with top performers at the entry level now might “save your bacon” down the road.
  1. Strive to create a mentoring environment.  This is different than a specific mentoring program.  A mentoring environment is one in which continuous teaching and learning is initiated and encouraged, both by management and by employees.

You could be experiencing a shortage of qualified workers and employees right now.  If you’re not, there’s a chance you might experience it in the future.  Take the steps necessary to combat such a shortage and gain a decided edge over the competition!