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Good jobs are out there... if you have the skills: A Survey By Manpower Inc. Identifies The Positions Employers Are Desperately Trying To Fill.
[February 22, 2006]

Good jobs are out there... if you have the skills: A Survey By Manpower Inc. Identifies The Positions Employers Are Desperately Trying To Fill.

(Paducah Sun, The (KY) (KRT) Via Thomson Dialog NewsEdge) Feb. 22--LYNX -- Services has openings in Paducah for 50 to 60 more call center operators, a collective group that ranks eighth in a new Manpower Inc. survey of the 10 most hard-to-fill jobs in the U.S.

Pepsi MidAmerica's need to fill eight regional sales-related jobs also reflects the survey, which ranks sales representatives atop the list.

Drivers of all types rank seventh. The Paducah Area Transit System has 10 driver vacancies, but can't find people to fill them, said general manager Gary Kitchin.

"We can't get enough drivers," he said Tuesday. "Today three drivers called in sick with all this stuff going around. That means we're going to be late picking people up. It's just a snowball effect."

The job list was released Tuesday as part of Manpower's new branding effort to reflect broader services by the staffing firm. The rest of the top 10, in order of demand: engineers, nurses/health care workers, technicians (information technology, production), accountants, administrative assistants, machinists (manufacturing, production) and management/executives.

In late January, Manpower surveyed nearly 33,000 employers -- including 1,300 in the U.S. -- across 23 countries and territories to determine how much talent shortages are affecting today's labor markets. The survey shows that 44 percent of U.S. employers and 40 percent of those worldwide are having difficulty filling positions because of a lack of suitable talent.

"We are experiencing growing pains in the U.S. as we shift from a skills-based economy to a knowledge-based economy," said Jonas Prising, president of Manpower in North America. "Note that the top five jobs that are hardest to fill all require advanced training and skills."

Paducah area employers are demanding more highly skilled workers because of high-tech work environments, said Paul Friedlander, director of the Paducah Career Center. Skilled workers with degrees and trained administrative people are scarce, he said.

"The day of the strong back and the weak mind in any manufacturing plant has gone by the wayside," Friedlander said.

Prising said the survey results indicate that ample career opportunities exist despite U.S. Department of Labor estimates that 7 million Americans are unemployed. Manpower -- which has a new logo, marketing materials and advertising -- is focusing on retraining workers to fill the gap between unfilled jobs and the unemployed, Prising said.

Joe Hatley, LYNX customer service center director, said the latest round of hiring is to keep pace with heavy demand for auto-glass insurance claims processing. Hours for the center, in the Paducah Information Age Park, are being extended from six to seven days a week. Employment will exceed 400, compared with 270 when Hatley started 412 years ago.

Unlike traditional call centers that have many younger part-time employees and high turnover , Lynx has a stable work force and more mature workers, Hatley said. "We stress quality as opposed to just productivity."

Pepsi MidAmerica is advertising for four territory sales reps and four route sales people in the Benton-based Kentucky-Tennessee Division. Those needs are spurred by territorial expansion by the firm, which operates a bottling plant in Marion, Ill.

"Good, solid sales reps that are excited about their product and have good relationships with their customers can sell anything," said Lisa Ramage, Pepsi MidAmerica human resources manager. "They should never be out of work."

Although route sales people drive trucks, they must have good sales and customer-relations skills because they visit stores daily, Ramage said.

Because of a nationwide shortage, long-haul truckers are in great demand here and elsewhere, with local trucking schools turning out hundreds of graduates. But local drivers are at a premium, too. Kitchin said the PATS shortage has existed since late fall.

Driving is demanding because of training requirements and the heavy number of handicapped and sick riders that PATS handles, Kitchin said. Basic drivers start at $7.50 an hour and those with commercial licenses begin at $8.50, both with increases after 90 days.

"I wish we could pay more, but we just don't have enough qualified people to come in asking for jobs," he said. "And a lot of people just don't want to work anymore."

Kitchin said PATS also has a couple of openings each in customer service and dispatching, which mirror the sales and call center jobs on the Manpower list. Other evidence that Paducah is indicative of the survey results:

 About 260 people vie each semester for 50 to 60 student slots as West Kentucky Community and Technical College turns out enough nurses just to meet regional demand. According to the college, only a few students go elsewhere, which does little to fill a national nursing shortage that is expected to worsen through 2020 as nurses, patients and nursing teachers age.

 One area company recruited nine information-technology employees through the Paducah Career Center. Friedlander said another firm needs skilled welders for jobs with high pay and good benefits, but there is a shortage, so the center is working with WKCTC to train candidates.

Need a job?

Top 10 hardest-to-fill jobs according to a Manpower Inc. survey:

1. Sales reps

2. Engineers

3. Nursing/health care

4. Technicians

5. Accountants

6. Admin. assistants

7. Drivers

8. Call center operators

9. Machinists

10. Managers/Execs

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