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If you can’t find qualified applicants to fill vacancies as unemployment rates shoot up, you are doing something wrong.

It’s that simple.

For years, IT vendors and solution providers have bemoaned the lack of qualified applicants with the right skills to fill vacancies at their companies. During good economic times, when job applicants have more leverage, it stands to reason that employers have a tougher time with recruiting. The problem typically is more acute with technical staff, though it also happens with sales people.

But with reports of layoffs at IT companies making headlines every week, it’s harder for channel and industry employers to make the case there are no qualified jobseekers out there. IT vendors have n 55,000 jobs since September, contributing to a 16-year high unemployment rate of 6.5 percent.

Still, solution providers at a recent event sponsored by IT distributor Tech Data say they can’t fill certain positions.

Click here to read more about solution providers who say they can’t fill IT jobs.

In addition, research by the Channel Insider and Amazon Consulting shows that even in this slumping economy, solution providers say they have trouble finding skilled personnel. Sixty-eight percent say they can’t find the right type of IT talent to fill their and their customers’ needs.

Click here to read which vendors are helping IT solution provider recruit for open jobs.

When you consider that more than a half-million people are collecting unemployment and the jobless rate is expected to top 7 percent within a few months, the 68 percent has to strike you as unreasonable. Is it really that hard to fill positions?

Presumably, that figure should get lower soon enough as recently laid-off workers start applying for new positions.

But will it? Considering the long history of employer complaints about scant jobseeker talent, it’s hard not to conclude the figure is likely to remain unreasonably high. And if that’s the case, you have to wonder exactly what these employers are looking for.

How realistic are they about the level of skills jobseekers should have? How willing are they to provide training to fill gaps?

My guess: not very.

Employers want jobseekers to have all the required certifications, and they expect the workers to pay for them. This is a common complaint from frustrated jobseekers, who believe employers should pay, or at least contribute to the cost, of the certifications.

Let’s establish that if you are a technical worker, you should strive to stay current on technology and acquire whatever certifications you need at your own cost, if that’s what it takes. But employers have a responsibility here, too. Training should be part of the deal. The more knowledgeable your workers are, the more satisfied your customers are likely to be.

Some employers might argue that paying to train workers who turn around and leave for another position is a bad investment. But if workers leave too quickly, you have to wonder why that happens. Is it a culture problem? Bad management? Low pay?

Employers need to do some soul-searching if they are having trouble recruiting and retaining workers.

Surely, with such IT stalwarts as Hewlett-Packard, Sun Infosystems, Dell, Motorola and Xerox laying off a combined 55,000 workers, there has to be someone out there to fit your needs.

If not, you really need to figure out what you’re doing wrong and make some changes, even if it just means adjusting your expectations.

Pedro Pereira is a contributing editor for Channel Insider.