Bridging the Talent Gap Survey results show many businesses still struggle to find qualified workers

06/09/2017 09:54 AM

COVINGTON — The Northern Kentucky Society for Human Resources Management released results on Thursday from a statewide Bridging the Talent Gap survey that showed 81 percent of businesses in Boone, Kenton and Campbell counties have a good economic outlook but still struggle to find skilled workers to fill their job openings.

The survey also showed there are still many businesses are not partnering with schools to try to entice students and allow them to get the skills they need while they are still in school.

Cathy Koop, board co-chair for Workforce Readiness with NKSHRM, says the survey was about getting feedback from the area’s business community on their employment needs and looking at ways to aid in providing an educated workforce.

“When we did this survey back in the spring, we wanted the voice of employers heard across the state, and the message was very clear: The economic conditions were great, but we’re having trouble filling those positions,” Koop said.

Insurance liability is one of primary concerns business leaders have in bringing students onto their property for things like apprenticeship programs.

Koop sees a way where businesses can accomplish the same thing but not have liability concerns.

“Maybe not necessarily do we as employees bring them into our organization because of that liability but get the employers to the education, so that could be a piece where we are talking about the workforce initiatives, volunteers from within the organization, getting them out to the schools,” Koop said.

NKSHRM President Nick Birkenhauer believes that one of the issues that has haunted business leaders and the educational community is the fact that there have been very few combined efforts in accomplishing the common goal of a better educated workforce.

“All of the community stakeholders have the same goal of getting northern Kentucky citizens in the right jobs with northern Kentucky employers, but the theme we kept hearing was that the stakeholders aren’t always at the same table together having that conversation that needs to be had,” Birkenhauer said.

Another piece Birkenhauer says is essential to maintain and grow a more educated workforce is to have the General Assembly continue funding and expand workforce development programs.

“These educational programs must be funded and they must be continued to allow to grow, and if we don’t have that, we’re not going to be able to achieve any of these goals,” Birkenhauer said.

The keynote speaker at the event was Kentucky Labor Secretary Derrick Ramsey, who emphasized that both the business and education communities must work together to increase workforce readiness.

Click here to see all of the statewide Bridging the Talent Gap survey results.


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