For the second straight year, more employers are having trouble identifying and retaining critical-skill workers, according to a new survey from Towers Watson and WorldatWork.

The survey finds that 59 percent of respondents say they are having difficulty in bringing in critical-skill employees in 2011, which is an increase from 52 percent in 2009 and 28 percent in 2009. Another 42 percent of respondents say they have trouble also reported recruiting top-performing employees, and 36 percent of respondents say retaining critical-skill employees is an issue. That is up from 31 percent in 2010 and 16 percent in 2009. In fact, only one in 10 companies is facing problems with attracting or retaining employees.

"Although economic conditions have improved and hiring rates have increased modestly since 2009, companies are experiencing difficulties finding and recruiting employees with critical skills," says Laura Sejen, global head of rewards consulting at Towers Watson. "Companies are taking longer to fill these positions, and more of them are open. There is clearly a greater-than-normal mismatch between the skills employers seek and those that are available in the marketplace. In short, despite the overall weakness in the job market, companies need a more appealing offering to attract critical-skill employees."

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