You don’t have to look far to know employers in our state and across the nation are experiencing a shortage of labor. Signage for “Help Needed” is vast throughout the region, with employers even posting wages and benefits in front of their places of business. A simple Google search will give potential employees’ pages and pages of employment opportunities. Many of these jobs even boast “No real skills necessary” or “No experience required” because companies are willing to train and invest in their employees. So, in the wake of the devastation from the pandemic, when countless people across the state and the nation have lost their jobs, why is it so difficult to find employees willing to meet the job demand? It appears we have two significant problems at play as the market recovers – shortage and surplus. High unemployment creating the surplus and increasing job demand creating the shortage for businesses.
Unemployment across Georgia has recovered significantly from the height of the pandemic and given that the state unemployment rate has dropped from a shocking 12.5% in April 2020 to 5.3-5.6% in December 2020, things seem to be moving in a positive direction.
However, with 245,800 Georgians reported as unemployed in December 2020 and with 224,082 estimated current job openings across the state, it begs the question of why those jobs aren’t being filled during what appears to be a labor surplus. Many employers have attributed their hiring difficulties to the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation which began last year with the CARES Act. Many have speculated that the $600 supplement to unemployment benefits and stimulus checks have given jobless Americans a lack of incentive to get back to work, leaving employers with a new barrier to find the help they need. Though the Continued Assistance Act signed back in December 2020 lowered the supplement to $300 and was set to expire on March 14, 2021, the new $1.9 trillion Covid bill has extended the $300 benefit through September 6, 2021.
Many business owners have in fact reported significant challenges in convincing employees to return to work and when filling open positions. According to a survey by the National Federation of Independent Business Research Center, 32% of small business owners reported the extra unemployment benefit has made it harder to hire or re-hire workers. Employers also reported having to offer higher wages or reduced hours as incentive to get people to return to their job.
So, what can employers do? Not just in the midst of difficulties resulting from the pandemic, but year-over-year to fill those open positions with qualified, skilled labor.
Employers are getting creative while addressing the competitive labor market and it’s not all about offering higher wages. Employers are offering apprenticeship programs, more paid vacation, work from home options, transportation for employees, and the list goes on. In closing, it appears that the labor challenge is here to stay for the foreseeable future. More companies are moving in and competing for the same labor pool that is already tapped out. In order to stay on top or even get ahead of the game, employers must stay competitive. We hope the resources following this article will provide assistance to our market.
Resources for Employers
YOUR LOCAL CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
Workforce Development and Economic Development initiatives are key for many Chambers and involve collaboration with employers, business leaders, and educational providers to bridge the gap between the labor force and industry needs in their market.
GEORGIA QUICK START
Georgia businesses have the nation’s best workforce training program at their fingertips: Georgia Quick Start. This free service provided by the Technical College System of Georgia has earned the nation’s top ranking in workforce development programs. Nearly 1 million workers at 6,200 companies of all sizes have benefited from the program which delivers training in classrooms, mobile labs, or directly on the job. The program is designed to address the needs of any industry but has the most experience in training in biotech, healthcare, warehousing and distribution, automotive, advanced manufacturing, and food and agribusiness service.
The Georgia Work-Based Learning Program assists businesses with building a highly trained, technologically sophisticated and career oriented young work force. Their goal is to assist in the creation of a strong support structure between local employers, high school students, and schools. More than 2000 employers in Georgia invest in and benefit from the WBL Program today.
WORKSOURCE GEORGIA MOUNTAINS
WorkSource Georgia Mountains, under Georgia Mountains Regional Commission, administers the federally funded Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) Program. WIOA funding meets the needs of both a job seeker trying to further their career and for employers looking for qualified applicants.
YOUR LOCAL COLLEGE AND UNIVERSITY
Lanier Technical College
See previous section on Georgia Quick Start program.
Located in Gainesville-Hall County and provides Georgia businesses training support for the latest automation, robotic and control technologies.
Set up a free account in Lanier Technical College’s Purple Briefcase Job Board, or contact their Career Services Coordinator.
Lanier Technical College’s Career Services Department works to help community employers find qualified employees among Lanier Technical College’s highly trained pool of students and graduates. Among the employer resources that Career Services provides is access to Lanier Technical College’s Career Connections job posting system. This is where recruiters can connect directly with students and manage on-campus events easier than ever before. The system gives recruiters smart tools to easily organize and evaluate candidate information in real-time so they can hire smarter and faster.
North Georgia Technical College
Customized Training and workforce development programs are the core of North Georgia Technical College’s mission. Customized training means “having it your way.” North Georgia Tech delivers when, where, and how employers want. Classes are available on a very flexible schedule—day, evening, and weekend—and may also be delivered on your site. They have a pool of highly competent, specialized, experienced teachers available for almost any training need and request. A wide range of Customized Training topics are available. Some of the most frequently delivered programs include ISO and Lean Manufacturing, Maintenance, Safety, Computers, CPR/First Aid, Customer Service, Workplace Spanish, and Supervisory/Management.
University of North Georgia
UNG offers certification programs and courses across a variety of professional areas including project management, logistics, information technology, cyber security, real estate, and more.
UNG’s Office of Professional & Continuing Education delivers courses and training that lead to job growth and creation and support business retention and recruitment. By customizing courses, UNG provides businesses with training that addresses key issues within your specific organization while keeping an eye on the bottom line. They will engage your employees in their state-of-the art classrooms and computer labs or bring their services to your facility so you’re paying employees for training time, not commuting time. Early morning, evening or weekend training is also available to accommodate the complex schedules of today’s workplace.
As a designated State Leadership Institution, UNG prepares graduates that are equipped for the workforce through high-quality academics and career-enhancing experiences. UNG can help you engage with their students. Whether you wish to offer an information session, attend a career fair, or provide an internship, UNG offers you varied opportunities to spread the word about your organization and build your talent pipeline.