Employers Say Plenty of Jobs Available, Cite Skills Gap
by Brandi Makuski City-Times Editor
Despite the national unemployment rate of 8.2%, some 3.2 million jobs are up for grabs across the country.
A simple job search for zip code “54481” returns listings for 86 jobs inside Stevens Point, and 410 within the drivable area. Centralwisconsinhelpwanted.com listed 51 jobs inside the city, and Monster.com shows nearly 700 jobs in the Central Wisconsin Area.
All empty positions looking to be filled- and the listings don’t always include many of small businesses that simply stick a “help wanted” sign in their windows.
Then why are so many jobs unfilled?
“It’s that lack of skilled worker that we’re seeing,” said Jim Holwerda, owner of Remedy Intelligent Staffing in Stevens Point.
Holwerda said his five employment agency offices across the state struggle to meet employer’s demands when it comes to skill sets like welding and machinists.
“That’s our biggest challenge. We just have a heck of a time trying to fill those types of jobs,” he said.
Jobs might be plentiful, but many applicants for work often have unrealistic expectations, but Holwerdsa said his applicant pool is filled with diversity and usually matches most applicants with a position that works well.
It’s a trend likely to improve, according the Kelly Knipple, Manpower’s regional business development manager for Central Wisconsin.
“We’re expecting a job market boom in the fourth quarter,” Knipple said.
Portage County’s unemployment rate shadows the state numbers at 6.3%, which equates to roughly 4,400 residents currently out of work. The state currently stands at 7.9% unemployment.
State Senator Julie Lassa said it’s not a new problem, but finding the solution isn’t exactly easy, either. Lass said in a press release there’s a lack of information compiled by various agencies to determine is government- sponsored programs were successful in new job creation.
“An audit of state agencies shows only two required state agencies developed rules for collecting and reporting the results of job creation programs,” Lassa said.
Citing recently release results of an audit of job creation programs, Lassa also discovered of the more than 3500 grants and loans made between 2007 and 2011, only about half of the businesses receiving the funds actually achieved their job creation goals.
“Also, no information at all was reported for almost a third of the state’s job creation programs,” Lassa said in her press release.
“The audit shows that the state has a long way to go before we can assure taxpayers that their investment in job creation is being used wisely and effectively.”