It’s all demographics right now. There are more workers than ever, but there aren’t as many of “those jobs” as there are people wanting them. So we have a perfect storm of plenty of labor with few of the jobs that people think they deserve. We don’t have a job problem in America, we have a work problem. The choices we must make are simple; you lower your standard for a job and you lower your standard of living accordingly until you can take the next step. Looking 5 to 10 years down the road gets interesting. However, as an eternal optimist and believer in the American people, we’ll figure it out. Hunger is always a great motivator.
Training is vital, and we must do a better job of helping people succeed. My wife taught for 20 years and I remember her saying that if a kid leaves us and can’t read, then we failed him. For years, our industry has just thrown people at jobs and expected them to figure it out or we’ll get another employee. Well, the next one won’t figure it out either, so why not spend more resources and set this one employee up for success.
In our area (South Eastern, Alabama), the food industry is our biggest competition. The area is heavy in poultry and peanuts, and all the big national brands have processing facilities within driving distance, so our middle management, and even the best of the forklift and maintenance, work there because they offer better wages. There is no magic answer and each region is different. In talking with people across the nation who are having success in finding workers, one solution is locating laborers who themselves are bouncing back in life. But to do that successfully, you can’t treat people as numbers, they are people who will need a little extra assistance. They will show up, sometimes because they don’t have a choice, but most often because it is their only choice.