Thousands of jobs in Michigan left unfilled due to “talent gap”

JACKSON, Mich. (WLNS) — Michigan’s improving economy and falling unemployment rate are stories that have gotten a lot of coverage.

But a story that hasn’t gotten a lot of attention is the thousands of jobs that go unfilled in the state, simply because there just aren’t enough trained workers.

6 News spoke with officials at Michigan Works South East about how they’re looking to close the state’s talent gap.

At a job fair this week in Jackson, job hunters were there to make their next career move.

“Nothing has panned out for me so far,” said Daniel Offerman, a jobseeker from Jackson.

“I haven’t been having all that much luck, and I am looking at other states as well,” said Christina Woodman, a jobseeker from Jackson.

Michigan Works says finding a good job may be simpler than it sounds.

“Every employer we go into is experiencing a lack of talent,” said Jim Coutu, Business Services Manager at Michigan Works South East.

Coutu says companies across the state are having trouble finding qualified candidates.

In fact, its statewide job board currently has nearly 100,000 job openings.

“People do not have the skills to close that gap to supply the employers with the workforce that’s needed,” Coutu said.

He says there are currently big demands in health care, advanced manufacturing, information technology, and skilled trades.

Michigan Works says if the talent gap isn’t filled, companies could be discouraged from coming to Michigan, possibly slowing down the state’s economic recovery.

“That is definitely a concern,” Coutu said.

The state is now linking employers with schools to make sure today’s worker is trained for tomorrow’s jobs.

“Bring awareness to the youth and to individuals who are currently unemployed to let them know that those occupations pay a great wage and they’re out there with a little bit of training,” Coutu said.

Michigan Works says with so many opportunities available people looking for work may want to reconfigure their job expectations.

That’s something jobseekers 6 News talked to are strongly considering.

“If I need to retool or reconfigure to get a new job that would fit my skills and potentials I’d love to do it,” Offerman said.

“The job market maybe isn’t as good as it used to be, so you have to open up that barrier a little bit,” Woodman said.

Here’s a link to the Pure Michigan Talent Connect: http://www.mitalent.org/

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