Indiana businesses adapt to lack of skilled job applicants, survey shows

By Brandon Barger
TheStatehouseFile.com

INDIANAPOLIS—Businesses across the state are hiring under-qualified people or reassigning work duties to make up for the lack of applicants for their open jobs, the Indiana Chamber of Commerce has reported.

Those are the strategies businesses are using to adapt to the ongoing shortage of qualified applicants, the chamber reported as it released its 12th annual employer workforce survey. The survey had responses from more than 1,000 businesses in 89 of the state’s 92 counties.

“We started it (the survey) because back then, and even more so now, workforce issues are increasingly important and challenging for employers so we wanted to get their opinions that would help us guide our programming,” said Kevin Brinegar, president and CEO of the Indiana Chamber.

Kevin Brinegar, the president and CEO of the Indiana Chamber of Commerce, talks about the employer survey that shows companies are leaving jobs unfilled. Provided photo 

Of the companies that responded to the survey, 49% reported that they had jobs that had been left unfilled.  This is down from a year ago when it was at 51% and was the number one challenge for companies.

However, Brinegar said that there were other factors that concerned the businesses that responded to the survey.

“We speculate that other things, like trade, tariffs, and foreign competition were the more important issues,” Brinegar said.

The chamber is also reporting that there is a decrease in companies reporting workforce or talent needs as a primary challenge. Last year, 33% of the responding companies reported that as a challenge compared to 12% this year.

Brinegar said that it was interesting to see the correlation between companies who didn’t report problems with talent needs and companies who did report that challenge.

Brinegar said that the businesses that didn’t report issues meeting their talent needs tended to be plugged into post-secondary educations for training and education, but “the ones who said that they were still challenged in finding the people that they need also responded that they didn’t use these programs.”

A quarter of the of companies said they are assigning duties and responsibilities internally compared to 18% a year ago and 23% are hiring underqualified applicants compared to only 11% two years earlier. Nearly three-quarters said they are open to hiring people with fewer skills and education and then train them on the job.

The survey also showed that 44% of companies are starting to look at skills other than education level when evaluating job applicants.

“I’m seeing resumes of college students, or recent college graduates who during their time in college have had not one but multiple internships or work and learn experiences,” Brinegar said.

The survey also found that employers cite bigger challenges with attracting employees than training or keeping them. Forty percent of employers believe applicants are not attracted to the community where the companies are located, which Brinegar said “underscores the quality of the place.”

Brinegar says that the future involves more automation of the lower, entry level jobs which means “a higher and higher demand for greater skills.”

The full survey results are available here.

Brandon Barger is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalists.

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