Helping employers fill jobs tops SHRM agenda

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From a decline in the U.S. birthrate to a widening skills gap, employers are facing significant challenges to fill vital jobs in their workplace.

It’s a problem that the Society for Human Resource Management says it’s committed to finding a solution for.

“We have to think about how we fix this,” SHRM CEO Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., said during the organization’s legal conference Tuesday. “And that’s the work for SHRM. We need people to grow the economy.”

Topping the policy agenda for the HR association, he said, is finding more access to employment through several key areas. Among them: employing former prisoners, hiring older workers and enhancing workforce development.

To help with this goal, SHRM noted it’s partnership with the Koch Industries to launch the Getting Talent Back to Work initiative, a response to a new law called First Step Act, aimed at encouraging employers to hire former inmates.

Employers willing to hire former inmates are given access to educational resources provided by SHRM through their website.

“We don’t have the luxury with the shortage of talent and skills gap to ignore [this population],” he noted. “Give them a second chance to be considered. That’s a big initiative.”

See also: One talent shortage solution: Applicants with criminal backgrounds

Another priority is finding jobs for older workers who want to work.

“A week doesn’t pass when I don’t receive a letter from an older American who wants to be employed … Fifty-year-olds who have been displaced due to outdated skills, or their job sector isn’t hiring,” Taylor said.

Programs to help older workers face similar hurdles to those that target former inmates: eliminating stigma and barriers.

Employers that commit to retraining older employees and teach them new skills can help, Taylor said.

Investing in workforce training and development has been a big investment for many employers.

Last year, President Donald Trump issued an executive order and received commitments from leading companies to establish close to 4 million training opportunities for employees across many industries, including SHRM. Those opportunities include expanding apprenticeships for on-the-job training and vocational education.

“We’re laser focused on what will help us close the skills gap,” said Emily Dickens, SHRM’s chief of staff.

Workforce development and helping older workers, people with criminal backgrounds and disabled workers is just one of the areas that SHRM’s government affairs team will focus on in 2020. The others include workplace flexibility and absence leaves; workplace equity, including harassment and gender equity; and immigration issues.

Taylor said SHRM is focused on issues that matter to the world.

“We have to make sure workplace issues are relevant to everyone: business leaders, HR leaders and policymakers,” he said.

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