Recovering jobs was one of the top priorities throughout the pandemic. It’s confusing, then, for employers to struggle to fill those roles, having worked so hard to be able to offer the roles in the first place. In recent months, the number of available positions has more or less equated to the number of unemployed workers. And yet, finding candidates to fill open roles has been a main barrier to operation and to recovery for small business owners who have survived the Covid storm.

But behind the shortage of candidates in the current labor market there are important phenomena at play. First, the pandemic has placed new demands on parents. The at-home "kin economy," in which mothers and fathers are taking on important caretaking roles, is arguably more demanding than it’s been in many years. Closures and diminished hours at daycares and schools impacted working parents throughout the pandemic, and those effects remain at play in the new job search economy.

Further, the rate of change in the labor market throughout the Covid-19 pandemic has presented new barriers to participation for many existing workers. Younger professionals are flocking to jobs in new fields, leaving holes in the industries that they’ve left behind. Further, some employers are listing roles that come with new skill sets and qualifications, many of which are the first of their kind—many candidates can easily perceive a lack of training or experience in those areas, leaving them hesitant to apply.

Sidelined workers watching these shifts take place can easily be prevented from resuming their rightful, meaningful place in the workforce. This has a ripple effect through virtually every sector, especially for small business owners who are in need of ready candidates to continue on their path. But with a better understanding of the forces at play in the labor market, employers can adjust their recruitment strategy and adapt their offerings in order to properly attract talent and close the role-candidate gap.

With so much uncertainty brought on by the pandemic, I think one of the most fulfilling offerings an employer can extend is continuous learning. Talented workers are increasingly excited about the notion of performing within a role while at the same time preparing for and learning about the next career step. Too often, this kind of progression is feared by small business owners, who might invest a lot in employee training only to lose their team members to more senior positions at larger corporations. But if a small business employer is able to carve a path for that progress within the organization, I've found they have a much higher likelihood of both attracting and retaining top industry talent.

Read the full article about addressing worker shortages by Pablo Listingart at Forbes.