Thursday, September 3, 2015

Difficulty Filling Job Vacancies: Lack of Applicants, Lack of Qualified Candidates, and Unfavorable Working Conditions

The Oregon Employment Department recently released a report on difficult-to-fill job vacancies across the state. Oregon businesses reported 45,400 job vacancies in 2014. Half (23,200 or 51%) of those job vacancies were difficult to fill.

For each of their difficult-to-fill vacancies, employers offered open-ended responses to identify the primary reason for the unfilled opening. Just three of these reasons accounted for almost two-thirds (65%) of all difficult-to-fill vacancies in Oregon during 2014: a lack of applicants (6,700 vacancies); a lack of qualified candidates (4,300); and unfavorable working conditions (3,400). Unfavorable working conditions included part-time, temporary, or on-call work shifts along with other conditions.

As educational requirements for vacancies increased, businesses faced less difficulty with a lack of applicants or unfavorable working conditions. Instead, as educational requirements increased, difficulty finding qualified candidates rose. Vacancies that required a high school diploma or less had a lack of applicants as the most frequently cited reason for difficulty. Those with bachelor’s or advanced degree requirements were more likely to have a lack of qualified candidates and less likely to have an overall lack of applicants.

Here's a more detailed look at differences in difficulty filling vacancies. We've broken down the data into occupational groups. The reasons for difficulty in the two health care categories reflect differences in educational requirement. Health care practitioner positions -- which include doctors and registered nurses -- are more likely to require a bachelor's or advanced degree. About two out of five of these vacancies (39%) were difficult to fill because of a lack of qualified candidates. On the other hand, health care support positions, such as personal care aides, generally did not require education beyond high school. These difficult-to-fill vacancies had slightly higher shares with a lack of applicants or unfavorable working conditions.

Management vacancies and farming, fishing, and forestry vacancies show an even more stark contrast. Nearly all management vacancies required at least a bachelor's degree. Nearly all farming, fishing, and forestry jobs required a high school diploma or less. While 5 percent of difficult-to-fill management vacancies had a lack of applicants, more than two-thirds (69%) of hard-to-fill farming, forestry, and fishing vacancies lacked applicants.

Average pay also rose as difficult-to-fill vacancies’ educational requirements increased. Hard-to-fill vacancies with a high school diploma or less paid an average of $12.84 per hour. That increased to $18.91 per hour for difficult-to-fill vacancies with postsecondary training requirements, and jumped to $33.86 for those requiring a bachelor’s or advanced degree.

If you'd like additional information about difficult-to-fill job vacancies in Oregon, check out the full report, or you can ask me!

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