Major industries expect growth, but finding skilled workers a challenge

Positive economic conditions and strong prospects for growth were among the findings of a recent statewide survey of Kentucky businesses. But another finding poses a particular challenge despite that optimistic news: 84 percent of employers report having trouble recruiting qualified workers.

More than 1,000 businesses participated in the Bridging the Talent Gap survey, conducted by the Kentucky Society for Human Resource Management.

“KYSHRM is so excited to report that we have completed the first steps in Bridging the Talent Gap in Kentucky,” said Chair Lynn Ingmire. “Our government, educators and businesses will now be able to take the information provided by over 1,000 employers in the Commonwealth to not only determine where the talent gaps are, but also what needs to be done now and in the future so that our state can move forward.”

The survey results, released this week, included the following key points:

  • Overall, 81 percent of companies expect to grow in the next three-to-five years. By sector, 86 percent of manufacturing, 70 percent of health care and 80 percent of professional, scientific and technical services companies expect growth during that period.
  • Hiring is at a high level: 77 percent of businesses are currently hiring for full-time regular staff.
  • Finding skilled employees is challenging: 84 percent of businesses report difficulties finding the right individuals for the jobs they have available.
  • The jobs most difficult to fill include high-skill medical, such as nurses, doctors and specialists; skilled trades, such as electricians, carpenters, machinists, welders and plumbers; and engineers.
  • Easier-to-fill positions include administrative support staff, customer service representatives and human resource professionals.
  • The main reasons cited for the hiring difficulty included competition from other employers, candidates lacking the right work experience and candidates not having the right skills.

The survey also found that only 35 percent of employers currently partner with education and training providers on assessing and meeting needs. However, 70 percent of those who are not doing so now say they would consider such partnerships to address skills gaps.

“The Bridging the Talent Gap survey results have given us great insight into the workforce shortage that Kentucky is facing and will help us identify methods of solving this crisis,” said Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Secretary Hal Heiner. “Partnerships between our schools and companies are below the U.S. average, but we are working daily to address that issue through programs such as the Work Ready Skills Initiative and the Work Ready Kentucky Scholarship.”

Kentucky Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Dave Adkisson also noted the value of the information in helping guide the work of the Chamber’s Workforce Center. “Our efforts focus on building the quality of our workforce on several levels. This data from more than 1000 employers gives a solid foundation for our work to close the gaps between jobs and the availability of skilled workers to fill them.”

The complete survey results can be found here.

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