WANTED: Skilled workers in New Jersey
Can't find a good job? Maybe you're the problem — not the labor market.
In a Robert Half survey of thousands of chief financial officers across the country, roughly two-thirds said it's at least somewhat challenging to find quality skilled workers for current job openings.
In response, many executives are retooling their strategies to attract the right talent.
With the unemployment rate at 2 percent for college-educated workers, employers are finding it difficult to fill the professional occupations they have available, the survey noted.
And the Garden State is no stranger to the issue, according to Michele Siekerka, president of the New Jersey Business & Industry Association.
Siekerka said the survey's findings are consistent with NJBIA members' experiences — recruiting for positions, from financial services to skilled labor, is a challenge.
A number of issues contribute to the trend, Siekerka said. For one, the state is struggling to keep its college students beyond graduation. New Jersey's millennials, aged 18 to 34, are the largest out-migrating group from any state in the nation, she said.
She also points to a "significant disconnect" between the skills companies need among workers and the skills that postsecondary education is delivering through today's students. Young workers' "soft skills," such as the ability to communicate and work as a team, are slacking as well.
"That's the challenge we hear from our companies every day," Siekerka said. "As a result of that, companies now are being more proactive in their recruiting."
That includes taking college students under their wings, through an internship, to teach them the exact systems and processes they would need to know upon graduating.
Companies have also made an effort, Siekerka noted, to partner with postsecondary institutions in New Jersey to help steer curriculum and lessons toward achieving in-demand skills.
"The companies are actually informing the skills that they need, whether it be soft skills or whether it be technical skills," Siekerka said.
In the Robert Half survey, 51 percent of respondents said they've considered college students or recent graduates for positions that historically weren't open to them. The same percentage expanded their job search geographically.