Berkshire County employment numbers show need to build skilled labor force
A Pittsfield company is looking to hire, but can't find the skilled workforce it needs to do so. Our Brandon Walker spoke with local employment advisers who say, despite high jobless numbers, those on the hunt for work, simply aren't qualified for many of the jobs available.
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PITTSFIELD, MASS. -- Chances are if you're looking for work, Pittsfield Plastics might have a job you. That is if you have any technical experience in the plastics industry.
"We're growing in all aspects of the business right now," said Nick Roth, account manager, Pittsfield Plastics.
Growing, by almost 50 percent year-to-year.
The company designs and manufactures plastic spools, dye molds and other products. It's hired 20 to 25 employees since last year and are looking to hire more. Problem is, the candidate pool simply isn't qualified.
"But on the technical end it's been very difficult. As far as our tool and dye builders, tool and dye repair. There's just nobody out there," Roth said.
Which can be hard to believe, considering that 5700 Berkshire County residents are looking for work.
"Our private sector companies are still actually adding jobs," said Heather Boulger, executive director, Berkshire Regional Employment Board.
Local employment numbers released Tuesday for the month of January confirm that.
Eight-point-one percent of Berkshire County's workforce was out on the dole for that month.
Dropping year-to-year from 8.9 percent. Those looking for work fall under the category Heather Boulger calls a skills mismatch.
"But what seems to be lacking is companies look for very specific industry positions, and the people who are applying for those positions don't have the skill sets that those companies are looking for," Boulger said.
Pittsfield Plastics challenge of finding a skilled labor force is a concern county-wide, meaning county employment officials are searching for new ways to create that workforce.
"So, we've been trying for a year to create training programs. We work with our local training vendors, which include the vocational schools and our community college," Boulger said.
Good news for a local company like Pittsfield Plastics, looking to keep it growth spurt going.
That is if the region can train a workforce to sustain it.
The Berkshire Regional Employment Board will host a career fair on April 26, at the Berkshire Hills Country Club.
For more information, visit the BREB's website at www.berkshirereb.org.