Blog: If We Are In a Recession, Why is it So Difficult to Find Good Talent?

I was asked this question multiple times at the Career College Convention in Orlando last week.  On the surface is does seem perplexing… Every night on the evening news the headlines cover job losses, unemployment rates, companies going bankrupt, and so on.

So if we are in a recession, and things are so bad, then why has it been so hard to make good hires? 

·    Education is a growing sector.
The United States has lost 4.4 million jobs since the recession began officially in December 2007, with the nation’s unemployment now hitting 8.1% as of February 2009. This rate is the highest since December 1983, when the jobless rate was 8.3%. The only pockets of growth in February were in government, education and healthcare services, according to the latest BLS figures. 

According to the U.S. Department of Education, the $20 billion for-profit education segment grew 15.4% annually from 1995 to 2005 and is expected to grow at 17.7% annual growth rate through 2013.

·    Unemployment numbers don’t tell all.
Even if unemployment hits 10% it is estimated that 4.3% of that rate represents individuals with a Bachelors degree or higher.  Most of the people who run our schools meet or exceed this education level.

·    Demographics don’t lie.
There are approximately 76.7 Million Baby Boomers in America and they are starting to retire, or be forced into early retirement. Generation X who will replace them in the workforce is approximately 38 Million.  A projected 39 Million worker shortage.

·    The Recession.
As people loose their jobs and need retraining career colleges typically see a boost in enrollment.  This spike has caused campuses and education companies to expand creating more open positions.

·    The Recession, again!
A recessed economy has limited equity groups’ viable investment options.  That has caused them to search for more profitable ventures.
The IPO of Grand Canyon University certainly sparked many investment groups to take a second look at education.  It completed an initial public offering last fall on Nov. 20, 2008, breaking the longest IPO dry spell in 33 years on Nasdaq.

·    Expansion, Expansion, Expansion.
It seems everyone is opening campuses, buying campuses, and expanding operations.  This creates jobs; lots of them!  Have you taken a look at the job boards?  The list of openings nationwide goes on and on.

·    Housing Market & Relocation.
It used to be easier to hire candidates from out of state and relocate them in.  With the housing crisis candidates often can’t sell their house, or can’t afford to, either way, reducing the candidate pool.

·    Fear.
While other sectors suffer education candidates become fearful of job loss even though education is booming.  This results in a mindset that suggests “the evil I know is better than the evil I don’t know” so they are resistant to change positions.

·    Salary Expectations.
It is scary out there.  So if candidates are going to make a move there better be a large financial windfall.  The organization and growth potential will not be enough anymore.

·    Changing of the guard.
Non-Degreed candidates face extinction.  No longer is it acceptable to sell higher education without possessing one.  Again, reducing the supply of candidates.

·    Too many resumes.
Have you posted a job opening lately?  If so there are probably 200-400 unqualified applicants in your inbox with not a shred of education experience.  This surge is a result of the recession as people get desperate for jobs.  The problem is it slows down your entire hiring process.

This list of reasons goes on but I am out of coffee!  Feel free to add to my list in the coming weeks and lets all be thankful that we are fortunate enough to work is such an exciting sector!

Vincent Scaramuzzo is the President of Ed-Exec, Inc. One of the leading executive search firms in education. He has consistently been ranked in the top 2% of all recruiters worldwide by Management Recruiter’s International, the world’s largest executive search firm.  Vincent is also a contributing author to Career College Central’s magazine and web site.  As a specialist in the education field, Scaramuzzo works nationally with Universities, Colleges, Online and Career Schools.  He can be contacted at  860-781-7641.

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