SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Employers are having a hard time finding qualified workers to fill thousands of positions across the state. But It’s not just technical skills potential employees are lacking, it’s also the so-called soft skills that are often overlooked.
A study just released by the Missouri Community College Association suggests the gap between job openings and workers is growing. The study says only 44 percent of business owners are satisfied with the pool of qualified workers out there.
“In the last, probably three of four years, especially, that issue of the workforce has risen to the top of everybody’s list,” said Matt Morrow, president of the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce.
A lack of skilled workers has become a universal challenge for businesses.
“It cuts across every industry, and it also cuts across every size business,” he said.
But certain industries, are seeing a larger gap. Health care, business and sales, and science and technology have more job openings than people applying for them. And demand is expected to grow.
“A lot of baby boomers, who have made up a large majority of the workforce, are retiring now,” said Morrow.
Another key factor, the study points out, is filling positions that don’t necessarily require a four-year degree, but require a high school diploma.
“I think awareness is a big issue, I think that we really need to get students, parents, and counselors that community college can be a first choice,” said Maggie Kost, communications manager for Missouri Community College Association.
But it’s not only technical skills potential employees are lacking, companies are also looking for those soft skills – such communication, work ethic and critical thinking.
“Whether or not someone shows up to work or at all, how they focus while they are there, how they work as parts of teams,” said Matt Morrow. “The kind of person that people want to hire regardless of what the job is.”
The study shows 60 percent of employers say they have difficulty finding candidates with these soft skills.
“Just going to college can be a great way to develop your soft skills, but there are specific programs being developed to deal specifically with soft skills,” said Kost.