Latest Labor Dept. skills & occupations report tracks employers’ priorities
By John McPhaul
The island Department of Labor and Human Resources on Wednesday released its report entitled “Skills and Occupations in Greatest Demand,” which concerns the tasks or activities most required by employers as well as the skills that employees must have.
The report, whose survey corresponds to the period between April 2020 and March 2021, also revealed the occupations with the highest demand and increases in the hiring rate.
Labor and Human Resources Secretary Gabriel Maldonado González said “it will be very interesting to be able to compare this report, which corresponds to the critical period of the pandemic, with the one that will be published in December 2023 and that covers the period of economic resurgence that we are experiencing in Puerto Rico.”
Regarding the skills required by employers, 60.6% of recruits were required to be familiar with computer use (38.4%) or mastery of specific programs (22.2%). Those numbers are similar to the previous year. Employers also stressed that they require the following skills and strengths: commitment to the company (49.1%), communication (34.7%), math (24.4%), critical thinking (21%), computers (17.2%), Spanish (14.7%) and English (11%).
The tasks or activities most required by employers of the last employee recruited in the period in question and the percentage of employers who required it are the following: complying with itineraries (77.7%), talking to clients (71.7%), working in a group or team (67.9%), managing assigned priorities (63%) and basic arithmetic (56.5%).
Some 43% of employers surveyed reported that they recruited at least one employee between April 2020 and March 2021, the latter being the third month of the administration of Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia. Some 28.9% of recruited employees were not required to have any specific level of education, although 34.2% of the latest recruits had a high school diploma or its equivalent. Meanwhile, 22.5% had completed high school.
The overqualification rate, which is equivalent to the percent of the last recruited employees with a level of education higher than required by the position, was 42.6%. At the industry level, those with the highest overskill rate were the information sectors (85.4%) and accommodation and food services (74.7%), followed by transportation and storage (60.2%), agriculture and mining (55%) and finance and insurance (51.9%).
Meanwhile, the occupations with the highest demand among the latest recruited employees were retail salespeople (11.3%), cashiers (5.2%), customer service representatives (5.1%), fast-food and counter workers (4.9%) and physician secretaries (4.2%).
As for the occupations that recruited employees with a degree below high school, retail vendors (13%) and fast food workers and counter clerks (6.8%) stand out. As for those who recruited staff with a bachelor’s degree or higher, retail salespeople (6.9%), medical secretaries and administrative assistants (6.3%) stood out.
As for the highest-recruitment occupations with an employer-required level of education, graduate nurses ranked first (7.3%), followed by executive secretaries and executive administrative assistants (6.9%), accountants and auditors (6.7%), medical and clinical laboratory technologists (5.1%) and lawyers (3.9%).
The new report showed that the hiring rate or the percentage of all employees who were recruited by that date stood at 3.9%, an increase of 1.7 percentage points when compared to the previous period that ended in March 2020 (2.2%).
The separation rate, which is equivalent to the percentage of all employees who were separated from their jobs – whether due to dismissal, severance, resignation, retirement or death – was set at 2.6%, which represents a decrease of 1.6 percentage points when compared to the previous period (4.2%).
The part-time employment rate, or the percentage of employees who worked less than 28 hours a week, stood at 13.7%, representing a decrease of 4.6 percentage points compared to the previous period (18.3%).