Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Columns

July 10, 2014

CHELSEA SCHNEIDER: Wanted: A work ethic

Employers struggle to find candidates with 'soft skills'

One of the hardest skills to find in a job applicant is someone with work ethic, according to a survey by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce released last week.

The chamber surveyed more than 500 employers and nearly 40 percent said they’ve left jobs unfilled because they couldn’t find a qualified candidate.

Most often, employers told the chamber they struggled to find candidates with “soft skills.” They had more difficulties finding someone who could communicate or show up to work on time compared to finding an applicant with a firm handle on math, English and other academic skills.

The number of employers reporting they left jobs vacant is “way too high,” said Kevin Brinegar, Indiana Chamber president and CEO.

Electricians and other skilled tradesmen and engineers should take note those jobs were the most reported to need good applicants, according to the survey.

“Collectively, we need to do better at connecting the dots regarding the open jobs and the qualifications it takes to land one of them,” Brinegar said.

Two-thirds of participants said businesses should play more of a role in reviewing requirements for a high school diploma and college degree. Some 90 percent felt employers should take part in the creation of career and technical education programs.

The survey also pointed to a need of raising awareness of WorkOne, the state’s agency that helps Hoosiers seek jobs and employers recruit. According to the results, 72 percent of the employers received little to no support from the agency. Approximately 36 percent said they knew about the agency but had never contacted them.

The survey comes as Indiana already takes steps to address the “skills gap,” by placing a greater focus on vocational education.

In 2013, the Indiana General Assembly approved the creation of an Indiana Career Council and Works Councils to better coordinate education with the skills needed in the workforce. Chamber officials say their survey shows the importance of those groups.

“Given the continuing needs of employers and the persistent number of unemployed adults, these responses point to the critical importance of [Gov. Mike Pence’s] focus on these issues and, specifically, the development of a strategic plan through the Indiana Career Council and local employer engagement through the Works Councils,” said Derek Redelman, the chamber’s vice president of workplace policy.

Chelsea Schneider covers the Statehouse for the Evansville Courier & Press.

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