private company hiring

Employers are hiring this year, but selectively, since it’s still tough to find quality workers, according to PwC U.S.’s latest Private Company Trendsetter Barometer released Tuesday.

Executives at more than 200 closely held companies surveyed by PwC expect their full-time equivalent employees to rise by 1.6% in 2015, lower than the 1.7% increase in FTE hiring in 2014. The low percentage is despite the fact that 83% of the respondents forecast positive growth at their companies in 2015.

The reason they gave? One-third said they were unable to fill open positions over the past year, particularly for technology and engineering positions. Many blue-collar positions were also left unfilled due to gaps in skills of many workers who have been out of the workforce since the recession. Thirty-seven percent of the respondents worry about finding qualified workers, up nearly 10 percentage points from a year ago.

“When businesses can’t find qualified job applicants, certain work just doesn’t get done,” Rich Stovsky, U.S. leader of PwC’s private company services practice, said in a press release announcing the survey’s results. “Companies have already squeezed employees as much as they can productivity-wise, and when jobs remain unfilled, businesses can’t grow as robustly or as quickly as they’d like.”

Stovsky added that many private firms are partnering with community colleges and offering on-the-job training to create skilled workforces.

Here are some additional survey findings:

  • Respondents on average expect 9.2% revenue growth in the next 12 months, the highest rate since early 2012.
  • Nearly two-thirds said they would hit or exceed their full-year revenue targets before year-end 2014, and another quarter said they would catch up to their sales targets by mid-2015.
  • Respondents on average are budgeting 2.76% in hourly wage increases for the next year.

Featured image: Thinkstock

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