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Qualified workers hard to find, most say

Rochester Business Journal
October 18, 2013

Seventy percent of respondents to this week's RBJ Daily Report Snap Poll say it is tough finding qualified candidates for job openings.
Nearly half said it is somewhat difficult, while 24 percent said it is very difficult. Only one in 10 said it's not at all difficult to find qualified job candidates.
And more than half of respondents say lack of the specific skills needed to perform well on a particular job is the biggest deficiency among unqualified applicants. Others-21 percent-cited traits such as poor attitude and motivation.
Lack of basic work habits, such as punctuality, was cited as the most common trait among unqualified job applicants by 13 percent of employers, and 6 percent said a poor grasp of basic educational skills.
While weak private-sector employment growth has been an issue in the Rochester area for some time, employers in some industries report difficulty finding enough qualified candidates for job openings.
A new report, issued by Monroe Community College in partnership with the Center for Governmental Research and the Rochester Business Journal, related the findings of a survey of local employers. It estimated the number of persistently unfilled positions at 5 percent of the region's workforce.
Employers' views on the topic have not changed much in five years. In a 2008 RBJ Daily Report Snap Poll on this topic, 48 percent reported it was somewhat difficult to fill job openings, while 24 percent said it was very difficult. Fifty-five percent cited lack of the specific skills needed to perform well on a particular job, and 22 percent pointed to poor attitude and motivation.

Roughly 300 readers participated in this week's poll, conducted Oct. 14 and 15.

In general, how difficult is it for your firm or organization to find qualified applicants to fill job openings?
Very difficult:  24% 
Somewhat difficult:  47% 
Not very difficult:  20% 
Not at all difficult: 10% 

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:  52% 
Poor attitude and motivation: 21% 
Lack of basic work habits like punctuality:  13% 
Poor grasp of basic educational skills:  6% 
Other:  8%

In my reading the newspaper and talking with employers, most say there is a shortage for people with the right skills to fill their job openings. MCC has tried to fill the gap, but it's often too late to the game and the employers are stuck doing their own training. With the insane costs of college and the worthless degrees many colleges produce, my plumber and carpenter make a very nice income and have been doing it for four more years than some of my favorite college graduates.
  -Clifford Jacobson M.D., Vanguard Psychiatric Services
I received 81 resumes for an entry-level administrative assistant position. Only nine of 81 resumes did not contain typographical errors. All were Rochester residents. Hello? You cannot work as a professional in this city if you cannot spell Rochester. If your high school really was "Esat Irundeqoit," please bring the diploma, as I was born and raised here and never heard of it. Or maybe you just do not proofread. Spelling, grammar, punctuation and format all count. We aren't about to hire a proofreader to clean up your mistakes, so we aren't going to hire you. Please post this in every high school in Rochester.
  -D. Romano
From our perspective, employers are looking for very specific technical skills and will hold off hiring until they find just the right candidate. It used to be if you met seven out of the 10 criteria, you got a job offer; now you need 10 out of 10 (or 11 out of 10 is even better)!
  -Rick Corey, president, OpticsProfessionals LLC
We have found that there is a severe lack of qualified auto and diesel mechanics. It appears that the skilled trades are no longer an attractive option in the workplace.
  -Patrick Caufield, general manager, American Fleet Maintenance
The reasons for this problem are many. Primarily, though, the public school system spends too little time teaching the basics: reading, writing and arithmetic. They spend too much time indoctrinating students in social and political correctness. They spend no time teaching civics, and the history they teach is targeted at their knowing little or nothing about the greatness of our nation. Our schools focus on higher education and do not encourage vocational studies. We spend millions to improve education but get little in return. Accountability is frowned upon, and incompetence is ignored or trumped by tenure. We must demand a return to basic education if we are to ever expect to have a pool of workforce-ready people.
  -Michael Kloppel, chairman, Ontario County Conservative Party
I regret I am no longer qualified to respond to this survey. I retired 10 years ago. However, I believe the top scholars and skilled people go where the best jobs are found. The economic climate and taxes are such in New York State that qualified applicants leave this area. It was at one time years ago that the educational opportunities in this area partnered well with the employment opportunities. However, the Kodak decline and the Xerox migration from high-tech to low-margin call centers have changed this in the private sector. When the largest employer is a not-for-profit institution (University of Rochester), it is a further consequence of the tax structure. We must reverse the death spiral of high taxes. Cut taxes, and growth will follow.
  -Dennis Kiriazides

For more comments, go to  To participate in the weekly RBJ Snap Poll, sign up for the Daily Report at

10/18/13 (c) 2013 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email

What You're Saying 

Daniel Hebert at 10:46:37 AM on 10/21/2013
There are plenty of qualified candidates in the area they are in disguise, they are a little over weight and have gray hair. The life expectancy is 90 years or more, many of us lost our life savings to the dot com and you name it crashes and need to continue to work. We get ...  Read More >
Mary Moore at 12:37:07 PM on 10/28/2013
One factor that contributes to employers not 'finding' qualified candidates for job openings is not mentioned in the article, the impersonal digital scan review. Almost every company now uses a scan system or service to screen resumes. If a candidate has not successfully int...  Read More >
Craig Clark at 9:37:40 AM on 10/29/2013
The lack of qualified candidates is often debated and the issue is complicated. There are not enough skilled trades workers as noted. But even when students do take the time to acquire the skills at a college of technology or community college they often are quoted a pay sca...  Read More >

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