The Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC) is led by a Board of Directors with expertise that represents a broad cross-section of the regional economy. LVEDC Director and Allied Personnel Services Vice President Susan Larkin, who has more than two decades of experience in the staffing industry, recently shared her insights about the employment challenges businesses face during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Q: Please tell us about Allied Personnel Services and your role there.
A: Since 1984 Allied has been providing staffing and employment solutions to Lehigh Valley employers. We develop long-term partnerships with our clients, and many of the area’s most successful companies have been clients for 30+ years. A key to Allied’s success is our ability to deliver timely and effective talent solutions that are flexible to quickly adjust to changing market conditions.
My role as Vice President is to oversee operations and to consult with our clients, developing strategic staffing programs and sharing critical labor market information based on the diverse insight and experience I’ve gained over my 25 years as an executive in the staffing industry.
Q: Before the pandemic, when unemployment was at record low levels, attracting and retaining talent was the biggest issue facing employers. How has the pandemic changed employer perspectives on the importance of talent supply?
A: The pandemic has elevated employers’ awareness of how fragile the talent supply is and how a high rate of unemployment doesn’t always equate to a robust talent supply. Because of the strong distribution and biotech sectors in our area, layoffs in those areas were not as significant. Add to that the challenges families face finding child care, the fears surrounding a return to work in the face of COVID, and the financial incentives offered through FCCRA [Families First Coronavirus Response Act] and unemployment, and the supply of available talent hasn’t significantly increased. Retaining talent has really become an even bigger focus. Keeping the hardworking, reliable, skilled employees on staff is critical to success when industries see a return to prior levels of workload.
Q: What types of jobs do employers need to fill during the quarantine economy and how do you expect that to change as restrictions are eased?
A: There continues to be a demand for skilled manufacturing roles, logistics staff, and scientific roles like quality control and lab work. As restrictions ease, we expect to see the offices and smaller businesses rebound with a corresponding increase in demand across all skill levels.
Q: What role did school closures and the availability of child care play on employment during the pandemic and how will that affect the local economy as the economy opens back up?
A: It is an extremely difficult hurdle for families. Some people were forced to leave the workforce completely to stay home with small children. Others that had the luxury of moving to a work from home arrangement were forced to figure out how to both educate their own children and keep up with their own work. If daycares and schools do not reopen in the fall, this will have a long-term negative impact on the talent supply and productivity of at home workers. Workers will require increased flexibility for child and family care and employers should be prepared to adapt to accommodate these new employee needs.
Q: Explain why enhanced employment benefits may be a challenge for some employers to find workers?
A: Enhanced employment benefits were intended to provide workers affected by the pandemic with immediate, significant financial assistance to allow them to remain home during the stay-at-home order. Unfortunately for essential businesses that have continued to operate, these enhanced benefits have had the unintended consequence of incentivizing people not to work. Many are able to make significantly more money each week with unemployment than they could earn with the jobs available to them. This has made recruiting for all types and levels of employees a challenge.
Q: How does social distancing and more rigorous disinfecting impact the number of workers an employer can hire even if there is demand for the product or service?
A: Complying with the ever-evolving CDC and OSHA guidelines has forced companies to rapidly adjust their operations. Hiring, training, scheduling and workflows have all been adapted, and in some cases the number of workers able to work in certain areas has been reduced in order to comply with social distancing guidelines. There have been some opportunities created with increased needs for sanitation and medical screening workers. We’ve seen our clients reacting well to these new challenges, and certainly those who are able to pivot to a new normal quickly will see a quicker recovery.
Q: How does the Lehigh Valley talent supply initiative position the region coming out of the COVID-19?
A: The LVEDC Talent Supply Initiative recognized the need to prioritize building a strong workforce before COVID-19, and the work around developing and retaining talent will easily be able to be applied to the post-COVID labor market. Areas such as career pathways, internships, and apprenticeships will all be vital in reshaping the workforce as we move forward, and the work that has been done in these areas already has prepared the Lehigh Valley to respond to the new challenges that employers will face.
Allied Personnel Services’ offices are open! We are available Monday–Friday, 8am–5pm by appointment only. You can call or text us at 610.821.0220 (Allentown) or 610.253.9779 (Easton), send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or apply online.
Information for Employees
Information for Businesses
COVID-19 Patient Facing Hotline @ 1-888-402-5846, option 3.
The Lehigh Valley Health Network can perform testing for COVID-19, but other causes for respiratory tract infections must be investigated in addition to COVID-19. Several sites are currently available for testing, if further evaluation is needed.
Local Health Bureaus should be called if there is reported contact with COVID-19.
Allentown Health Bureau: 610-437-7760
Bethlehem Health Bureau: 610-865-7083
The Pennsylvania Department of Health: 1-877-724-3258
Do you know the difference between a watch and a warning? Is a storm warning the same as a blizzard warning? Winter is upon us in the Lehigh Valley, so it’s important to understand the terms used to forecast the weather.
Familiarize yourself with the following weather alerts so you know what actions you may need to take:
- Winter storm watch: Be alert, a storm is likely
- Winter weather advisory: Experts expect conditions to cause significant hazards, especially to motorists
- Frost/freeze warning: Experts expect below-freezing temperatures and damage to plants, crops or fruit trees
- Winter storm warning: Take action, a storm is entering—or is already in—the area
- Blizzard warning: The combination of snow and strong winds will produce blinding snow, near-zero visibility, deep drifts and life-threatening wind chill—seek refuge immediately
With the Farmer’s Almanac predicting a “Polar Coaster” this winter for the Northeast, it’s going to be important to understand the differences and be prepared. Some other resources to help you get through the winter:
2019 marks Allied’s 35th year serving the Lehigh Valley, and we are humbled by another Reader’s Choice win. The commitment and hard work of our staff and temporary employees continues to set Allied apart as the top staffing service in the Lehigh Valley.
Thank you to everyone that voted for us!
Join us at the Walgreens Distribution Center for a Job Fair on Wednesday, July 10th from 4pm-7pm!
Opportunities are available for Warehouse Associates on all shifts paying up to $14/hr. Come meet our recruiters to learn more and apply!
Allied is more than just temporary staffing! We are also a leader in the staffing of Office & Professional roles for companies across a diverse set of industries within the Lehigh Valley. And working with a professional recruiter can transform your job search!
Here are just a few of the roles we currently have available:
These full-time positions are all located in the Lehigh Valley and offer the chance to work with some of the best companies in the area. If you are interested in one of these openings, please email your resume to email@example.com for immediate consideration. (Haven’t updated your resume recently? Check out our tips for giving it a refresh!)