Jobs not filled due to skills gap
Unemployment numbers in the country are still high, but a recent report says many jobs are being left unfilled.
The Eau Clair’s unemployment rate is lower than the national average, but the skill gap is still a big issue.
Eau Claire’s unemployment rate is at 5.6%. Right now we’re number four on that list with 220 jobs that could be filed. But employment experts say people in the area just don’t have the skill set to get them. The Eau Claire Workforce Center says in this economy, there’s always a skills gap of some sort, but in the recent years it’s been getting worse.
“There are certain occupations that just have a ton of openings, it’s getting people in those that’s the difficult part,” explained Labor Market Economist Scott Hodek.
Across the state of Wisconsin there are around 45,000 job openings, most look for manufacturing engineers, welders, machinists, accountants and medical professionals.
“They are definitely occupations where we hear employers saying we could really use welders, but we can’t find enough,” said Hodek.
“Sometimes when you come in with prior experience it’s unfortunately not very helpful,” said Jeff Peterson.
Peterson has a master’s degree in public administration, and has tough college-level economics for years. But after looking for a full time job for nearly a year, he found he was overqualified.
“I’m whiling to trained in on something else, whether it happens to be for example a truck driver, it’s just I don’t have the finances to go back and take additional classes,” said explained Peterson.
Doug Olson with the Executive Marketing Director with Chippewa Valley Technical College says they’re seeing many people being underemployed.
Some programs to get those high-demand jobs don’t take much time or money, but for some it still could be a stretch.
“One that would seem fairy easy is truck driver for example; our graduates have an average starting wage of 47,000 a year after ten-week training program, costing roughly $1,400. That’s certainty worth the investment but does somebody have the money to make that investment,” explained Olson.
The Workforce Center says there are many efforts at the state and local level to help underemployed workers by offering scholarships and grants to go advance their skills.
Olson says he doesn’t believe the gap can ever be completely closed, because of changes in technology. He says on average an individual switches eight to 12 jobs in a lifetime, and going forward most workers will have to consistently learn new skills to keep up with technological changes.