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Companies fight skill gap as more jobs are created

Businesses that are struggling to attract skilled workers may want to invest in employee incentive programs.

Employers added thousands of jobs during March, but many firms are finding it difficult to find qualified workers for specific roles within their companies.

The Labor Department released its jobs report for March this week, which shows that businesses added 88,000 positions to their payrolls during the month. This is down substantially from the 268,000 jobs created during February, but was still enough to lower the unemployment rate from 7.7 percent to 7.6 percent.

Despite the job creation, a recent poll by the Society of Human Resource Management found that 66 percent of respondents were having a hard time filling specific openings. This is up from 52 percent of companies that stated filling open jobs was challenging in 2011.

Businesses that are struggling to attract skilled workers may want to invest in employee incentive programs. Not only can these initiatives encourage staff members to make recommendations about potential candidates, but they can lead to higher levels of engagement among workers. An article by HR.BLR states that engaged workers are more than six times as likely to suggest friends and family apply for openings at their companies.

Engaged workers give businesses access to a wider range of applicants who are more likely to fit within the corporate culture. This can improve the hiring process and reduce employee turnover. Incentive programs provide motivation for staff members to make recommendations for improvements. These could range from suggesting a particular hire to changing procedures in order to boost efficiency.

Most businesses appear to be lacking specific skills within their workforces. The New York Times reports that the majority of jobs created in the last few months have been low-wage opportunities in food service and retail. Meanwhile, the Society of Human Resource Management study found that respondents felt engineering, programming, nursing and medical specialist jobs were among the hardest positions to fill.

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