Chris Ashcraft, who runs an Express Employment Professionals office in Mobile, Alabama, says it’s getting harder to fill jobs in his area. Unemployment is hitting new lows, meaning fewer workers are available.
“Right now, we are trying to recruit employees into the area from outside,” he said.
Ashcraft is not alone. Curt Allison, who runs an Express Employment Professionals office in Coquitlam, British Columbia, sees the same.
“We are experiencing the tightest job market in many years in our area,” he said. “We have also noticed that we’re getting more applicants who already have a job, but are looking to make a change versus people not currently working.”
In Grand Rapids, Michigan, Express office owner Janis Petrini notes, “We have full employment, and so companies are having to be creative about how they will tackle the shortage of labor.” Despite the challenges, she’s optimistic.
“The community partners have come together to talk about innovative and creative ways to train and cross train the workforce,” Petrini added.
In a recent survey of businesses from Express, more than three-quarters of respondents said it was “difficult” to recruit and fill positions, more than in any of the previous four quarterly surveys.
Respondents were asked, “Currently, how easy is it for you to recruit and fill positions?”
Forty-five percent said, “somewhat difficult,” and 31% said “very difficult.” Just 21% said “somewhat easy,” while 2% said “very easy” and another 2% said “I don’t know.”
When asked why jobs are not filled, 37% said “lack of applicants with experience,” and 31% said “lack of available applicants.” Other top concerns include applicants without the relevant hard and soft skills.
“Headlines have been filled with generally positive economic news over the past weeks and months, but here is a reminder that we’re not actually reaching our full potential so long as we don’t have people for available jobs and jobs for available people,” said Bob Funk, CEO of Express. “If I have a wish for 2018, it’s that we can expand the conversation beyond simply ‘job creation’ to ‘worker creation.’ We need to turn unemployed people, and workers on the sidelines, into qualified workers.”