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How can skill shortages in a labour market be measured?

How can skill shortages be identified and quantified? What occupations or industries are they in? What regions of the country are they most acute? What are their causes?

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Brainstorm Info
Created:almost 7 years ago
Activity:about 1 year ago
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interview small skill based employers...sector, location, online.....
look for websites that track average pay rates over time (by skill.) Pay rates go up when there is an excess of demand over supply.
Steve, do states have census data? Not sure but would be worth checking out. Taxes of course are annual and people have to report where they earned their money (privacy wouldn't be an issue because you're not asking for names). Also another thing to check out would be whether there were associations that deal with the desired skill. There are associations for almost everything from ceramics to blacksmiths.
Can anyone tell me more about "spidering" webbots?
I like the idea of talking to people who have the skills in shortage to ask about possible barriers to training. As for immigration, we consider immigration numbers in our overall assessments of skill shortages, but it's not the only indicator. While it's a key lever for governments to address shortages, it's also influenced by relative economic conditions in other countries. The tertiary education system is also key source of trained people.
In New Zealand we reckon the move to web advertising from print media has really gathered pace in the past few years. Until recently, our index of the number of job ads in newspapers was closely related to a widely accepted indicator of skill shortages from the Quarterly Survey of Business Opinion which asks employers whether they are finding it harder or easier to recruit skill staff. Now that relationship is breaking down we're looking at gathering job ads from the internet as well.
Thanks for all your input so far. In New Zealand we have been analysing skill shortages for the past few years by recording jobs advertised in Newpapers and using this as a sample from which we survey employers who have recently advertised to ask them whether they have filled the job. A key measure of shortage is the fill rate - the % of jobs filled by a suitable applicant with a given amount of time. Those of you who are interested could go to:
Carl, agreed but the issue with Census data is that it relates to Occupation rather than a specific skill. Additionally it could be 10 or more years out of date.
not necessarily, Steven, as you said, there aren't many people who are blacksmiths. Seeing the remunerations may not tell you because they could change if the skill set is see as not as valuable but not necessarily commonplace. I think the best way would be to look at tax and census data which generally list occupations of the population.
A key way to identify shortage would be to examine salary/rate levels over time. As skillsets move from novel ( rare) to mature (commonplace) the remuneration expectations change both with the employer and employee.
A skill shortage does not necessarily mean that there is a demand for that skill, for instance I haven't seen many adverts requesting qualified Blacksmiths or Wheelwrights in the past 10 years. Jobposting are another dead herring because they are rarely unique and so many adverts may be for the same position but merely reworded by the individual agencies.
Anand - The job boards are not representative of demand - anyone who's been on the market for a while can tell you - half the postings are dead, 90% of the old ones are dead and gone (but still posted), and recruiters and internal HR staff are never quick to update and/or clean up their postings. Any data gathered that way is purely anecdotal and not representative of reality. While many of the ideas in Freakonomics are fallacial, the undelying framework has validity - think all the way around!
Now to the problem at hand - A skill shortage implies that companies have skill requirements that are being unmet by the local labour market. Given that companies will not tolerate this type of situation for long, they will likely import the skills they require from elsewhere. The demand WILL be met, just not necessarily by a local labour market. You want to measure? Measure the skills and numbers of labourers being imported. That will give you accurate data.
To analyze causes of skill shortages, you might have to find people who have skills in question, ask them how they acquired that skill, and then find why more people are not choosing that path for education.
Aggregate all the job requirement postings from various websites by "spidering" webbots, analyze their location, industries etc. and how long they've been posted for and use this data to measure skill shortages. The longer a position is advertised, the more likely there is a shortage of labor for it.