Matching jobs and skills
Officials with Daimler Trucks North America told the Post last week that they were having trouble filling some 300 positions at the Freightliner plant in Cleveland. Freightliner is not alone. Nearly half of North Carolina employers — 45 percent — report having difficulty filling openings, according to a state report released earlier this year.
Anyone looking for a job needs to listen up.
“Employers report that the North Carolina labor pool is not matching growing demand for jobs that require strong skills (both ‘hard skills’ and ‘soft skills’), proper training and certification, sufficient levels of education and previous work experience,” the report said.
The 2014 Employer Needs Survey was conducted to help North Carolina’s Commission on Workforce Development. Among the reasons employers across the state cited for not hiring included these, in order of prevalence:
• Lack of work experience, educational credentials and technical skills, said more than 40 percent of employers. (Seventy percent of manufacturing employers cited technical skills.)
• Not enough applicants, said one in three employers.
• Candidates’ unwillingness to accept the offered wages, said one in four.
• Lack of soft skills such as communication, enthusiasm and interpersonal skills, said one in four.
• Candidates’ criminal records were an issue, said one in six.
• Inability to pass a drug test, said one in 10.
A small percentage cited other reasons, such as commuting distance. Failing to show up for the interview — one of the issues cited by Freightliner — apparently is not widespread.
The Freightliner jobs require a variety of skills. The NCWorks website lists openings at the truck plant for jobs such as maintenance electrician and technician, quality engineer, production supervisor, process engineer, material flow specialist, materials supervisor and human resources specialist.
Statewide, the employers who responded to the survey said they had trouble finding people with these skills: machining, blueprint reading, electrical skills, engineering technologies, customer service, computer operation and business/accounting. They also mentioned soft skills such as communication, enthusiasm, interpersonal skills, critical/analytic thinking and problem solving, and attendance dependability.
Employers are highly selective — and so are workers who have all these skills. After all, 55 percent of employers are not having trouble filling positions. It would be interesting to study their employment practices. Do they require fewer skills? Or do they offer better pay and job security?