With a strengthening economy and low unemployment comes a potential labor crisis.
Companies in Lehigh and Northampton counties are hiring and plan to continue hiring over the next year, but if the problem of finding the skilled workers necessary to fill these positions persists and nobody takes action to address the issue, the region could see a deficit of nearly 10,000 workers over the next decade.
Over the next decade, the number of baby boomers leaving the workforce is 90,665, while the number of incoming workers is 80,673.
That’s according to the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corp., which Thursday afternoon released the final report of a yearlong regional study that polled more than 300 companies in Lehigh and Northampton counties on questions related to skill needs, hiring plans, workforce challenges and other factors.
With Lehigh Valley-specific data in hand, economic development and workforce officials say they are poised to capture a greater understanding of how to find the right people for the right job.
“This data is the first time we’ve had Lehigh Valley specific data,” said Don Cunningham, president and CEO of LVEDC. “It’s really saying the Lehigh Valley is in the category of most of the strong growth regions in the country. Demand for skills is increasing.”
At an event that attracted about 200 people to the Blue Grillhouse event center in Bethlehem Township, officials involved in the Education & Talent Supply Study disclosed the findings from the data they gathered over the year. State grants funded the majority of the study.
The Education & Talent Supply Council formed in 2015 to meet, discuss and work on these labor issues and had participation from local schools and colleges, said Mark Erickson, president of Northampton Community College and chairman of the council.
FIVE TARGETED SECTORS
In 2017, LVEDC and the Workforce Board Lehigh Valley hired MDB Insight, a Toronto consulting firm, to conduct the study that included interviews, focus groups and surveys with businesses from five targeted industry sectors and other stakeholders.
That same year, LVEDC hired Karianne Gelinas for a newly created position, director of talent supply. Gelinas helped to gather the data and worked closely with the council.
The targeted sectors are manufacturing; high-value business services; life sciences; transportation, warehousing, logistics and wholesale; and health care. The data are only from companies in these fields, and the council chose these sectors because they said they demonstrated the greatest employment needs.
“They already employ a large sector of our workforce and they are poised for growth,” Gelinas said.
Having strategies to help these growing employers is critical to the region’s economic health, Gelinas said.
COMMUTING IN AND OUT
The study also used Census Bureau data, which showed there are more Valley residents commuting outside the region to work than there are out-of-area commuters coming into the Valley to work.
Data revealed 91,230 people work in the Valley but live elsewhere, while 186,170 people live and work in the Valley. Furthermore, the data showed 99,138 people live in the Valley and work elsewhere.
“That number used to be way out of balance,” Cunningham said, saying many more residents commuted out of the Valley to work elsewhere. The council would like to broadly identify those 99,138 people leaving the Valley each day to work, their skills and where they are going, he added.
QUALITY WORKERS ARE PARAMOUNT
LVEDC, an organization focused on attracting new companies to the Valley and retaining existing ones, is finding that businesses are increasingly more concerned with the quality of the available workforce than they are location, according to Cunningham.
“The availability of skilled labor and gaps between existing workforce and skills that today’s employers need are critical economic challenges,” he said. “This is not just a Lehigh Valley issue.
“It’s a common concern in growing communities across the United States during a period of rapid technological change and historically low unemployment levels.”
NINE IN 10 TO HIRE
A majority of surveyed employers said they have had difficulties hiring. The study showed 71 percent said their company has experienced challenges in recruiting, hiring or retaining workers over the past year.
The study also showed 91 percent of employers said they have hired workers within the past year, and 89 percent said they plan to hire within the next 12 months.
“The constant that we see across all our clients is, the skills gap affects everyone,” said Susan Larkin, vice president of Allied Personnel Services, a staffing agency in Allentown and presenting event sponsor. “The need for this study is clear.”
Larkin said she has not seen a labor market like this one. Her firm has experienced many different labor markets over the years and is one of the Valley’s largest employers.
Now with the survey complete and the data released, the council will examine 36 recommendations that MDB Insight identified, including nine that LVEDC views as the highest priority for taking immediate action.
These include conducting more tours of local businesses for the community and school officials, developing a more targeted mentorship program and finding out where residents go who leave the region for educational opportunities elsewhere. The full study and recommendations are available at LVEDC’s website.
“We are trying to look forward and put some framework in place,” Cunningham said. “We have to understand it to be smart.”
Source: Lehigh Valley Business
Technology has changed hiring for both job seekers and recruiters
For better or for worse, technology has changed the recruitment and job search process, for both those seeking jobs and those hiring for them. It’s easier than ever for recruiters and hiring managers to find candidates who have specific niche skills or even sway candidates who might be currently employed and not actively job searching. Job seekers can not only create online profiles to attract recruiters and apply for jobs with one click, but they can even reach out directly to employers.
With so many tools available to make the process less resource-intensive, candidates are generally the ones doing the “heavy lifting” in terms of making themselves known to recruiters. With setting up LinkedIn, Nexxt, Jobcase and other online accounts that allow them to actively reach out to employers, job seekers are trying to turn themselves into the “hand-picked” candidate.
Years ago, it would have been unheard of to find company reviews and salary information when conducting an online job search. Now, according to “The Modern Job Seeker Report” from recruiter software company iCIMS, 92 percent of Americans turn to employer reviews when considering a new job. Plus, one-third of Americans (including 47 percent of millennials) has declined a job offer due to poor company reviews.
Here in the Lehigh Valley, however, the trend of “seeing behind the walls of a company before you ever set foot in the door” isn’t always the norm for job candidates.
“That hasn’t been our experience,” says Janell O’Brien, director of corporate services at Allied Personnel Services in Allentown. “Here in the Lehigh Valley, we find word of mouth, personal connections, news updates and a company’s awards or recognition carry more weight with job seekers than online reviews. Reviews for employers (or any kind of business for that matter) allows for both accurate positive and negative reviews but also allows a space for anyone at all to say anything they like about a business. Savvy customers and consumers should do a full range of research before relying on any one site for review information, as one person’s experience with an employer may not mirror the experience of another. Work is actually a very personal thing; as we all know, the job you love may be despised by the next person, and the job you can’t do because of a lack of skill may be easily mastered by someone else.”
LinkedIn and online job networks
LinkedIn has held the title of “the” go-to professional social network for 16 years now, and has shown no signs of its popularity or usefulness waning. The site has played a major role in how candidates search for jobs and how recruiters find candidates. With a strong profile and the right connections, you can attract hiring managers and recruiters to the point that you’re literally bringing job opportunities right to your inbox. And with the networking and connections aspect, you can keep a close eye on potential job openings from past colleagues and other connections.
There are other sites that have followed a similar model, such as Nexxt (formerly Beyond.com) and Jobcase, both of which give job seekers the opportunity to create a comprehensive profile to show off their most relevant information for recruiters. These sites allow you to list work preferences such as your willingness to relocate, preferred job location, salary range, personal traits, volunteer work and other career-appropriate information.
While LinkedIn allows some of these more nuanced information categories, the advantage of the other sites is that they power more than 100 existing job-listing websites, meaning users have access to a wide range of employers and opportunities associated with these sites.
Today, the norm is searching for a job while using a mobile device. There are countless job board apps and job search apps designed to quickly connect recruiters and hiring managers with job seekers.
While mobile might make the process quicker, how does one stand out amongst all of the technological noise?
“A simple application process that can be done quickly and from anywhere on a mobile device still requires consideration and thought. To stand out, be the person who follows all of the instructions, who completes the application process accurately without spelling errors and typos, who follows up, or who finds a way to connect with a hiring manager directly,” says O’Brien. “If there is an option to apply directly to an email address, we always recommend doing that over submitting something through a site. This puts the job seeker in front of a person and shows a sincere interest in a particular position. We have repeatedly seen job seekers sabotage themselves by applying online over and over and over again to the same company for a wide range of jobs. This can be construed as desperation and a need for any job at all which is why careful consideration should be given to each application submitted.”
Source: The Morning Call
Ready to tackle the online job search? Start here!
Allied has the best jobs in the Lehigh Valley!
Join Allied for a job fair conveniently scheduled from 4pm-7pm on Thursday 5/10 at B Braun, 901 Marcon Blvd. in Allentown. We are looking for people with previous experience in a production environment for 2nd and 3rd shift manufacturing positions.
B. Braun Medical Inc. leads in thoughtful solutions that address real issues in patient care and clinician safety. Awarded a 2016 Top Workplaces honor by The Morning Call newspaper, their ethical and purposeful work culture welcomes innovation and rewards progress.
Interviews can be stressful. Allied has some easy guides to help you through any interview process. Start by checking our guide on how to dress for an interview, and review some quick tips for a successful interview. (Just make sure you don’t prepare too much!) Finally, follow these steps for ending the interview and proper follow-up.
After the Interview
- Before leaving, ask the interviewer what the next step is. This will allow you to determine the best way to follow up.
- If you are asked to call the interviewer about the next step on Wednesday, call on Wednesday. Not Thursday…Wednesday. This is often a test. An employer is evaluating your ability to follow directions and follow-up properly. These skills are vital to any position.
- If the interviewer said she would call you Friday and you haven’t heard from her, call on Monday. If you must leave a message, be polite and brief.
- If after leaving a message you haven’t heard anything in 2 more days, send an email. Again, be polite and brief.
- If you haven’t heard 2 days after that, assume you were not selected and move on. Do not give in to the temptation to call and/or email again to tell the employer they missed out. This will eliminate you from any future consideration should other opportunities within the company arise.
The Thank You Note
You should send a separate thank you note to each interviewer. The note should be handwritten on a conservative card and be brief and professional.
Dear Mr. Gehrig,
I enjoyed meeting with you today regarding the administrative opening with your company. I believe that my experience and your needs will be a good match. I look forward to hearing from you about the next step in the process. Thanks again!
If plans were made for a second step within the next 1 – 2 business days, it would be appropriate to send an email rather than a note card.
Having trouble landing that interview? Let Allied help! Apply today and let us connect you to the Lehigh Valley’s top companies!
Come and learn about these great long-term job opportunities for experienced forklift operators. Can’t make it to the job fair? Stop by our office at 752 Union Boulevard in Allentown, call us at 610.821.0220, or apply online. Don’t miss this chance to get your foot in the door at one of the Lehigh Valley’s top companies!