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Snap Poll: Skilled workers hard to find, most say

Three quarters of respondents to this week’s RBJ Daily Report Snap Poll say it is tough finding qualified candidates for job openings.

More than half—52 percent—said it is somewhat difficult, while nearly a quarter said it is very difficult. Five percent of respondents say it’s not at all difficult to find qualified job candidates, while roughly 20 percent say it’s not very difficult.

A majority of respondents—53 percent—says lack of the specific skills needed to perform well on a particular job is the biggest deficiency among unqualified applicants. Nineteen percent cited poor attitude and motivation.

Lack of basic work habits, such as punctuality, was cited as the most common problem among unqualified job applicants by 12 percent of employers, and 8 percent said it was a poor grasp of basic educational skills.

These results are in line with an October 2013 Snap Poll, when the same questions were asked. In that poll, 71 percent of respondents said it was hard to find qualified job candidates—47 percent said it was very difficult and 24 percent said somewhat difficult. Fifty-two percent cited lack of the specific skills needed to perform well on a particular job, and 21 percent pointed to poor attitude and motivation.

Stronger private-sector hiring regionally has been evident in recent data released by the state Department of Labor. In August, private-sector job growth in metropolitan Rochester exceeded 2 percent for the third straight month. For the three-month period ended Aug. 31, private-sector employment in the region grew by an average of 2.3 percent—the best performance in at least two decades.

Some employers say the quality of the labor force here is one of the Rochester area’s chief assets. Others say, however, that they might do even more hiring if the local pool of qualified applicants were larger.

Nearly 300 readers participated in this week’s poll, conducted Oct. 19 and 20.

In general, how difficult is it for your firm or organization to find qualified applicants to fill job openings?
Very difficult: 24%
Somewhat difficult: 52%
Not very difficult: 18%
Not at all difficult: 5%

Which one of the following is most common among unqualified job applicants?
Lack of the specific skills needed to perform well on a particular job: 53%
Poor attitude and motivation: 19%
Lack of basic work habits like punctuality: 12%
Poor grasp of basic educational skills: 8%
Other: 7%


From having been active in the job search pool, I know there are many highly qualified people looking for work in Rochester. The challenge is getting connected with these people to apply for quality positions that are open in the region. Having this disconnect with companies has caused too many well-qualified candidates to be out of good work for too long.
—Sharon Dajnowski

The education system should expand the tech and trades subjects beginning in middle school. There is a gross shortage in these fields. Many students enjoy working with their hands. They would need math, science and computer skills. The basic subjects are all brought together in tech and the trades. It is a shame that the education system has taken away these vital courses. Many of these students are frustrated and discouraged, causing them to be disruptive or even drop out. Not everyone wants to dress up and go to work in a cubicle. There is a lot of pleasure in fixing something or building something, and solving the challenges along the way.
—Jennifer Apetz

Some like to think that the new technologies bring a shortage of qualified workers. In reality, the lack of motivated, qualified workers with the “old-fashioned” work ethic covers all areas. This is not necessarily in my company, but what I experience in everyday business transactions!
—J.A. DePaolis, Penfield

Hiring is very complicated today. Gone it seems are the days of the eager new hire willing to do whatever it takes to move up in the ranks. We are talking about the “entry-level positions” (which soon will cost New York employers $15 per hour). Many of those seeking employment today seem educated in how easy it is to “game” the generous and seemingly “anti-employer” New York State Workers’ Compensation Board or Social Security disability programs. They try to get hired on, only to very soon “injure” themselves to collect a free weekly check. And it seems there are plenty of willing accomplices in the legal and medical professions to facilitate them. The employer almost never prevails in workers’ compensation or disability hearings! I think the so-called safety net programs have largely discouraged many people from the whole concept working for a living. New York is truly in decline, and our politicians are leading the race to the bottom!
—George Thomas, Ogden

The Rochester region produces many talented high school graduates, but many still leave after graduation from high school or college and do not come back. If the region continues to market itself as a viable place to live at any age, employers can continue to draw from the 5,000-plus college graduates each year.
—Keith Newcomer

For more comments, go to rbjdaily.com.  To participate in the weekly RBJ Snap Poll, sign up for the Daily Report at staging.rbj.net/dailyreport.


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