ManpowerGroup North America President Becky Frankiewicz On The 2018 Labor Market

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ManpowerGroup North America president Becky Frankiewicz.

ManpowerGroup’s Q2 2018 Employment Outlook Survey of more than 11,500 U.S. employers found that U.S. employer hiring confidence is strong, with one in five employers planning to grow their workforce in the three months ahead.

Chief Executive caught up with ManpowerGroup North America president Becky Frankiewicz to talk about what’s driving the optimism on hiring, which areas are growing fastest and how programs such as up-skilling workers will evolve in the year ahead. Here’s what she had to say:

Q: What are some of the big factors driving the optimistic hiring outlook in the U.S. this year?

A: We are seeing demand-fueled growth across the U.S. as the economy continues to strengthen and the labor market tightens. Unemployment is at a 17-year low and in Q1 employment rose across industries including construction Retail Trade and Manufacturing – in line with our predictions.

We have been tracking employment trends every quarter for more than 50 years. Our Q1 ManpowerGroup Employment Outlook Survey told us job growth would be highest in a decade. And it was.

In Q2 2018, employer confidence is holding steady across the country and industries with double digit hiring intentions across all 13 sectors and four regions, as well as double digit hiring intentions in 98 of the 100 largest Metropolitan Statistical Areas.

As hiring continues to strengthen, we’re seeing sidelined workers re-enter the workforce and overall participation grow, though we still have work to do. There are people on the bench and we have to do more to up-skill American workers and bring everybody in.

“The national Outlook is now at a similar level to pre-recession levels in 2000, with particular optimism in Manufacturing and Construction.”

Q: The Leisure & Hospitality, Durable-Goods Manufacturing and Wholesale & Retail Trade sectors continue to grow, what are some things driving growth in these areas?

A: We see no signs of slow down for the second quarter of 2018 with an Employment Outlook at +18% driven by Leisure & Hospitality (+28%) as the economy picks up and Americans dine out. In the Leisure and Hospitality sectors, employers’ are reporting the strongest hiring intentions across the U.S. – a sign that consumers are reacting to a strengthening economy. We’re seeing similar growth intentions by employers in Wholesale & Retail Trade who are reporting the most optimistic Outlooks in more than 16 years as online retail continues to grow and the increase in distribution workers is expected to rise.

The national Outlook is now at a similar level to pre-recession levels in 2000, with particular optimism in Manufacturing and Construction – where employers are reporting the biggest growth in hiring plans year-on-year, up 7%.

The manufacturing industry is estimated to produce up to 3.5 million new jobs over the next decade. With close to 2.5 million manufacturing workers set to retire by 2025 and ongoing skill shortages, up to 2 million of those new jobs could go unfilled. These are not the jobs of the past – many are highly skilled roles that will build America’s future.

Q: Is it common for employers in all four regions in the U.S. to have a positive outlook for their hiring plans in a given quarter?

A: We’ve seen a steady increase of the Net Employment Outlook since a flat Outlook in 2009 at 0% after the great Recession. Since then, all U.S. regions show varying degrees of positive hiring intentions as the economy continues to bounce back. Employers in all four regions across the U.S. have reported double digit hiring intentions since 2015.

Q: What kind of impact on hiring do you expect from the U.S. tax reforms?

A: We welcome any change that will make the U.S. more competitive. Access to skills and talent, and building a right-skilled U.S. workforce is critical to competitiveness. There is now an open job for every unemployed American and the increased labor demand could help push the labor force participation rate up. This will hopefully help the 1.5M “marginally attached” workers – those who looked for full time work in 2017 but couldn’t find it – get back into the labor market.

Skills are the new currency and much of the outcome will depend on America’s ability to attract and upskill more workers in 2018 to meet the stimulated demand.  Employers need to look for people with adjacent skills – skills that are closely connected and can be adapted easily, developed and applied to new roles.

That’s what we’re doing at ManpowerGroup – from our ground-breaking partnership up-skilling veterans for digital manufacturing roles with Rockwell Automation, to our nation-wide MyPath program that provides tools for people to accelerate their careers. We’re up-skilling people today to prepare the workforce of tomorrow.

Q: How will programs such as up-skilling workers continue to evolve in this year?

It’s time for employers to rethink people practices to attract, retain and develop the next generation of talent. Offering mentorship and up-skilling programs across generations can attract, retain and develop talent. Digital skills and expertise will be critical for almost all workers, from entry-level to leadership.

The best job security today is having the ability to adapt and continue developing your skills to keep pace. Companies will increasingly hire people for this attribute and try to cultivate it in their workforce. In the digital age, success is less about what you know, and more about your ability to keep learning. If we take collective action to help people develop the right skills mix, people will augment rather than compete with technology.

Leaders must shift the conversation from “Will Robots Steal our Jobs?” to action on “How To Harness Human Strengths in a Digital World.” In the Skills Revolution, we can and must shape a brighter digital future for everyone, where AI and robotics augment what is humanly possible.

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