You may be suprised
In 2013, the national unemployment rate was hovering around 8 percent. Today, that number has been nearly cut in half, to 4.1 percent. In St. Joseph, it’s even lower, at 3.5 percent. However, this statistic doesn’t mean local employers are satisfied, nor are they having their needs met by the current crop of job candidates.
A recent Workforce Survey in partnership with the St. Joseph Chamber of Commerce polled the top 100 employers in the St. Joseph area. It revealed some eye-opening statistics.
While the majority of companies want to hire additional full-time and part-time employees in the coming year, they are finding a dearth of qualified candidates. Like most workforce surveys, this survey sings the familiar refrain of candidates not having enough “industry knowledge” or “technical skills.” But it also trumpets a different finding. Job applicants are cited just as often for a lack of “soft skills,” such as work ethic, ability/willingness to learn and teamwork/collaboration. Companies rated these skills most important to their business.
At Catholic Charities of Kansas City-St. Joseph we recognize this need for soft skills and weave them throughout our Employment and Life Skills Workshops held weekly in our Kansas City location, at 4001 Blue Parkway, and the first and third week of every month in our St. Joseph location, at 1123 S. 10th St.
“From the moment our classes begin with basic job skills training, all the way through to job retention, we emphasize soft skills. We talk about commitment, honesty and especially self-esteem,” says Racheal Traschel, career development specialist at Catholic Charities in St. Joseph. “Most of the people who come to us are downtrodden and suffer a negative self-image. We strive to lift them up, instilling a positive image, enabling them to become more sound contributors in a work environment.”
The St. Joseph Workforce Survey goes on to categorize jobs into three employee skill sets.
• High-skilled employees: those jobs requiring a four-year college degree or five years of experience.
• Middle-skilled employees: those requiring training beyond high school but short of a four-year college degree.
• Low-skilled employees: those requiring a high school diploma or less.
Employers lamented finding deficiencies more acutely among the middle-skilled and low-skilled applicants, rather than high-skilled applicants. One out of four applicants for these jobs did not have the skills necessary to match the employment opportunity. As a result, employers will be seeking future candidates who have completed a short-term training program teaching, among other things, soft skills.
Click here to read the Saint Joseph New-Press’ coverage of Catholic Charities’ Workforce Workshops
At Catholic Charities of Kansas City-St. Joseph, work is viewed in its broader context. It is an effective instrument against poverty; but even more important, work is a crucial component in the make-up of man, reminding him of being made in God’s image and likeness. If you’d like more information on our Employment and Life Skills Workshops and how they can better prepare you as a job candidate or help your business tap a steady stream of prepared workers, please contact Kathy Ficcadenti at (816) 659-8269.
Rachael Trachsel, Workforce Development Employment Specialist