Workforce assessment tricky job

By Andy Jackson: CNJ staff writer

More than half of 29 Clovis employers who participated in a Clovis/Curry County Chamber of Commerce survey believe the area lacks a skilled workforce.

Survey respondents also indicated that communication is the skill most lacking in job applicants and work ethic and drug use are the two biggest issues employers face in finding qualified candidates.

The survey results will be used to help develop a future workforce that meets the needs of area businesses, according to Chamber Training Specialist Ashley Syzmanski. The results were revealed Tuesday at a workforce training seminar hosted by the chamber and Clovis Industrial Development Corp.

However, Clovis Community College Workforce Training Center and ENMR-Plateau officials paint a brighter picture.

The center’s Jan Bradburn said Wednesday about 50 people took a skills assessment test at the training center, and a majority had a solid base of work skills. She called the survey a good first step identifying gaps in the labor market.

Bradburn gave a presentation of the school’s job services during Tuesday’s workshop.

Donna Smith, employee services director for ENMR-Plateau, said Wednesday that applicants are well qualified for customer service positions but less so for technical telecommunications positions.

“Clovis is a great place with a good applicant pool and labor force,” Smith said, adding that some jobs are easier to fill than others.

More than 24 percent of respondents to the Chamber’s survey said work ethic is their biggest problem finding qualified employees.

For employees, then, “ethics, timeliness and willingness to learn,” are the most important assets they can bring to the job, according to Michele Thief, a recruiter for SEI.

Although only about 4.4 percent of the surveys were returned from the Chamber’s 654 members prior to the workshop, according to Syzmanski she said she felt it was a solid response.

Ernie Koss, Chamber director, said surveys continue to be returned.
The survey also indicated that only 14 percent of companies responding have employees who lack experience and education.

New Mexico has a 4.9 percent unemployment rate, indicating that people are finding jobs statewide, according to New Mexico Department of Labor Spokesman Carlos Castaneda.

But, Castaneda said, because of the war in Iraq federal funds are being diverted away from workforce training programs across the nation.

Other notes from Tuesday’s meeting, according to the labor market survey:< /b>

• The survey said the jobs with the highest turnover are in sales.
n More than 24 percent of survey respondents said work ethic is their biggest problem finding qualified employees.

• 62 percent of respondents said they believe there are few skilled workers in the area.

• Job categories with the most openings are nurses, and tellers, the survey results said.

• 82 percent of 29 organizations post vacancies in the newspaper, more so than on the Internet or radio.

• There were 20,379 people in the Curry County labor market in 2004, according to www.stats.indiana.edu