Archived Story

Board bridges gap between jobseekers, employers

Published 9:03pm Wednesday, May 29, 2013

A recent survey found that one of the biggest issues between jobseekers and prospective employers is communication.
The 2013 North Carolina JobSeeker Survey found gaps between the skills and wages that each party expected.
For its survey, the North Carolina Association of Workforce Development Boards surveyed more than 5,000 jobseekers from all of the state’s 100 counties.
Wayne Rollins, a senior business-services specialist at the local Workforce Development Board, said the findings are amazing.
“The study demonstrates the disconnect between what employers want and what jobseekers describe themselves as,” he said. “We’ve got such an opportunity for our work force and businesses. But they can’t find it because they really don’t know how to describe themselves, and employers are having a hard time describing themselves.”
In last year’s skills survey of North Carolina employers, a critical shortage of customer-service and sales candidates was identified. This year’s survey found that the top category in which people were seeking work was customer service and sales.
The findings of the surveys indicated the disconnect. The workers are out there, but they are finding a hard time finding the positions they are qualified to do, the survey notes.
Employers are placing generic ads that do not clearly describe the job skills prospects should possess, the study finds, with few of the job ads industry specific.
Jobseekers also found business websites complicated and hard to navigate through online applications. Rollins said the issue confirms what employers claimed, that a standardized work-readiness certification is needed. The certification would show the job seeker’s office skills using computers, standard office software and equipment.
Conversely, only 3.2 percent of jobseekers were given skills test as a condition of employment.
The report also found that jobseekers consider distance to the job and hours to be worked, along with the compensation, before accepting job offers. Forty-three percent of jobseekers turned down job offers because of what they considered to be insufficient pay.
“This may indicate that there may be a level of ‘wage gap’ along with the ‘skill gap’ among the work force in North Carolina,” Rollins said.
The Workforce Development Board will use the findings to open dialog between employers and jobseekers and close the gaps between the two populations.
Rollins said his office would help employers write and place job ads that get them the employees they want.
“If the average pay for the position is $12 an hour and you’re offering $10 an hour, what are you going to find? Nothing,” he said.
The board will help jobseekers learn how to market themselves and accurately describe their skills. Employers and jobseekers reported word of mouth as the best way to fill positions. The board shows jobseekers how to network by using job clubs, attending chamber of commerce meetings and volunteering in local organizations.
“Never before in recent history have we had the opportunity to change and improve the skill sets of the work force, which in the long run could have a significant benefit on our state’s economy,” Rollins said.
As of January, North Carolina had 173,000 job openings and about 422,000 unemployed workers, according to the report.
“We live in the greatest state and country on earth and have the finest work force who has demonstrated their ability to change when change is needed,” said Rollins. “All they need now is the opportunity to receive new skill sets without barriers.”
The Workforce Development Board is located at 1385 John Small Ave., Washington. For more information about the services offered, call 974-1821 or go to www.ncawdb.org. To reach Rollins, email him at wrollins@mideastcom.org.

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