I made a comment on NHPR's exchange a few weeks ago about what I felt the real root cause of our high unemployment rates in the North Country. I said:
"The reality is that there are jobs out there, but small companies are the only ones creating them. Big companies are too slow and cumbersome and take way too long to hire. Small businesses feel the impact of a new client immediately and immediately fill the job. The bigger issue is the massive misalignment between the skills today’s employers need and the skills of the unemployed. I was at an event last night and there were six job openings that people were trying to recruit for and having little success. The problem is that you can’t find the skills sets we need from within the NH labor pool. "
I speak from experience. Here at KDPaine & Partners we've been looking to hire at least two new people per quarter. Yes, the jobs are entry level, but that's because not many people do what we do, so in order to be good at it, we need to give the person 3-6 months of training. On the other hand, we typically promote from within, and all but two of our managers have started out as readers. We pay for 80% of their health insurance premium for full time employees. It's not union wages, but nor is it minimum wage. The problem is, we can't find anyone to hire.
We've been running an ad on the NH Department of Employment Job page for a while and we have gotten exactly 3 applicants, none of whom have anywhere close to the skills we need. We just reposted the job with a slight different job description that is more inline with our current needs. It reads:
The Media Analyst position is the entry level position at KDPaine & Partners a US based market research firm which pioneered public relations measurement and is a leader in tracking and measuring social media marketing programs. The Media Analyst is responsible for monitoring and coding electronic media including newspapers, magazines, television, radio, web sites, discussion groups, YouTube videos, Facebook threads, blogs, Twitter and all other forms of social media for a particular client and reports to the team lead. KDPaine & Partners has clients in Government, Defense, Consumer, Technology and non-profit segments. Our media monitoring tool provides a working environment for an analyst to accurately characterize a company’s communications presence in the marketplace. A successful employee will develop a strong understanding of client needs and communication strategy in a particular market and proactively support development of KDPaine & Partners web based analysis by fast accurate interpretation of content from all forms of media. KDPaine & Partners holds a leadership position based on our pioneering work in Social Media measurement and needs employees to help us become the dominant player as the market grows.
Must have solid knowledge of computer and internet search basics (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, Google) knowledge or experience working with web based applications or communications tools is a plus. Desire and abilities to develop expertise in new areas is critical.
Sadly, those aren't the skills you learn when you are operating a mill. The good news is, now that the former Gorham mill workers will be Trade Act Certified, they'll be eligible for training funds. But that doesn't help me much. I need workers today.
So when we're looking around for who to blame for high unemployment, we might start by looking at NH"s legislature which has for years starved our public education system and underfunded higher education and training programs. Maybe if they hadn't left us 49th in state support of education, our workers might have the skills to get the jobs that are begging to be filled.