What Is Stopping Skilled Workers From Finding New Opportunities?

It’s easy to find yourself in a career rut, but not so easy to get out of one.

These days, switching lanes and excelling in a new career feels harder than ever, especially for the unfortunate sections of the workforce who lack the formal experience and qualifications that many modern employers demand.

Even worse, many workers who have built extensive careers and shown acumen, creativity, and drive within their roles go overlooked when it comes to the hiring process, particularly within new sectors where you think transferable skills would give them an edge.

What is causing this and stopping skilled workers from finding new opportunities? Today, we’ll discuss this concept and explore why it’s so difficult for these workers and what can be done to change industry attitudes.

What is a ‘skilled worker’?

The term ‘skilled workers’ is a difficult one to define. Whether they excel with their minds or their hands, are all workers not skilled to some degree?

For the purpose of this article, we’re referring to workers with unique skills and specialities that aren’t necessarily in line with the office-centric, white-collar working environment many professionals find themselves in today.

These include:

  • Manual labor
  • Armed forces
  • Security and safety forces
  • Healthcare
  • Professional sports

These roles represent lines of work that are less defined by educational success and less likely to have obvious transferable skills. Their lack of obvious reliance on modern tech means many people within these roles are looked upon as less natural fits for new opportunities in typical lines of work.

The strain of specialities

One of the biggest roadblocks preventing skilled workers from transitioning into new lines of work is the impact of the roles they’ve spent their lives in so far.

Many of the jobs listed above demand intense physical and mental commitment. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted to everyone the strain on healthcare sectors across the world and the grueling work-life balance it provides.

Likewise, medical consultancy firms such as VA Claim Pros have noted the increased number of veterans approaching them for assistance acquiring coverage for mental health conditions alongside those looking for benefits for the physical injury and disabilities most commonly associated with this line of work.

These roles can require years of training to even attain a living wage. Medical professionals spend years of their lives and plunge themselves into significant student debt to serve their communities. Military personnel require years of training and often have little in the way of support once they return home. Professional athletes live highly regimented lives where slight injuries and poor timing can affect their ability to advance in the sector and earn significant money. Across the world, organizations such as LAPS (Life After Professional Sports) have been established to both assist athletes looking for a new purpose and raise awareness of the precarious nature of their careers.

We think of these roles as specialities for a reason, because they require a special kind of person with a special kind of commitment. Getting through these roles is a challenge enough in itself that it can make setbacks jumping into new roles harder to take.

The misconception of expertise

While there are many highly skilled and specialist workers out there looking for opportunities and career changes, most businesses still see them as unqualified for the roles they need to hire for.

The lack of formal education and experience within their industries has made businesses resistant to the idea of hiring many skilled workers. Not only do they think they lack the formal qualifications to excel in the job, but they refuse to commit the time and effort required to train them.

You might have excelled in sports or risen through military ranks, but if you haven’t spent years in an office environment, many recruiters and managers see less immediate value in you.

This makes life difficult for skilled workers looking for a career change, with the entry barrier to industries such as tech and media proving to be almost impossible to break down within contacts or experience developed in side hustles or self-funded education.

While anyone who has worked with these specialist workers can attest to their unique, versatile skillsets and sense of ambition to learn, the lack of time and fear of falling behind while they train up teams without formal qualifications makes businesses unlikely to take the risk, despite the growing acceptance of constant workplace training throughout an employee’s time with a company.

Overly complicated hiring processes

It’s easy to assume employers know what they want. They’ve set up their own business and maneuvered it to a point where they need to hire more staff. Surely success comes with smarts, right?

In actuality, whether it’s through a lack of direction or an overly complicated hiring process, more employers actually have no idea what kind of staff they’re looking for.

This leads to them approaching the process in one of two ways:

  • Outsourcing to recruiters who don’t understand what it takes to thrive in their workplace
  • Demanding too much of applicants, causing them to fall at the first hurdle

Both methods are often highly over-complicated ways of approaching hiring. While hiring processes have changed to protect the rights of employees and applicants, they’ve also created a culture over-reliant on busy work and admin procedures. This leads to specialist workers who might be perfect for the role but don’t check all the boxes falling through the cracks.

Using resume checkers and assessments to analyze potential applicants can save businesses significant time, but it also limits the pool of talent they’re working with. If you just need someone hired for your marketing job fast then maybe it’s not too much of an issue, but if you’re looking to give your business a unique edge, it’s worth taking the time to read through applications for candidates with stand-out experience. Once you get them in an interview situation, their ability and what they could bring to the business will stand out.

There are many reasons an apparently skilled worker might not be chosen for a new job. There’s no conspiracy against them, but certain attitudes and approaches within more conventional workplaces need to change — both to offer struggling people an opportunity to make something of themselves and produce a more fluid approach to modern careers.

About the Author:

Rodney Laws is an ecommerce expert with over a decade of experience in building online businesses. He’s worked with the biggest platforms in the world, making him the perfect person to offer advice on which platform you should use to build your website. Check out his reviews on EcommercePlatforms.io and you’ll find practical tips that you can use to build the best online store for your business.

Connect with him on Twitter @EcomPlatformsio.