Unemployment is a topic that has been at the forefront of many economic, political and social discussions over the last 10 years.  Since the economic downturn and recession, unemployment numbers have increased.   More importantly, it is not just short-term unemployment but rather long-term unemployment that has become a significant issue for the American population.

Prior to the major economic collapse suffered in the early 2000s, the source of long-term unemployment was generally illness or disability. Today, many long-term unemployment issues stem from people who are unable to find jobs due to the stigma of long-term unemployment or a lack of current skills in their field.Unemployed

The perpetuation of this brutal cycle of unemployment is a direct result of a deterioration of skills, accepting jobs that are unstable or not well matched to their abilities and as a result of all of the above, making less than they were prior to being laid off.

We briefly touched on the topic of the stigma of unemployment back in 2011 and how giving preference to individuals who are recently laid off over those with a long-term gap in employment can be in violation of the EEOC’s regulations.  Today, we want to discuss how human resources professionals can address the need to “re-skill” these workers in order to leverage these individuals.

A paper recently released by the Brookings Panel on Economic Activity indicates that “Those who have been out of work for months come from all industries, but are primarily concentrated in sales, service and blue-collar jobs. The share of the long-term unemployed from sales and service jobs was 36%, and from blue-collar jobs 28%.”

These industries all rely heavily on skill based laborers.  The report also shows that when the unemployed do return to work, they return to the same industry or occupations from which they were displaced.    Whether the skill is a service position – such as technical support or a blue collar job like roofing, there are specific skill sets that are required to be a viable candidate for hire.

So how can human resource professionals address this skill gap that presents itself when an individual has been unemployed? The answer – re-training the individuals to possess new skills in the same or similar job roles as they previously held.  Training should be considered an investment in your employees.  These individuals want to work; they have the foundation for a successful career but need their skills to be refreshed and updated to be concurrent with the current jobs available.

We know that it may seem risky to hire someone who has been out of the game and requires training, however HR Shield offers expert HR advice in this very area – hiring the right people, navigating standards, and compliance and personnel management.  Contact us today to find out how we can help you maximize your HR practices.