There is a skills mismatch between what local employers need and what the available workforce has to offer, said Teresa Van Son, director of the Job Development Bureau in Genesee County, yesterday following her department review with the Ways and Means Committee.
During the meeting, Van Son said a recent job fair was poorly attended by job seekers.
The county's unemployment rate is historically low -- that may not be a surprise but there are still at least 1,300 people listed as unemployed (using the most recent unemployment statistics). Von Son said she believes there are still people with the ability to work who are not looking for work because there aren't jobs available for them. Meanwhile, there are more than 1,000 job openings in Genesee County listed with the Job Bureau.
To address that, Von Son wants to promote more the job-training opportunities available through the bureau.
"One thing we would like to work on is providing people with additional opportunities for training so people in those early skill level jobs can move up and fill some higher level positions and then you've got more room for the emerging workforce," Van Son said.
County-level data for prime-age workers who aren't working or looking for work is hard to come by, but nationally the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the labor participation rate in that cohort has returned nearly to 2009 levels after hitting a nadir in 2014. The percentage of prime-age workers, people 25-54, in the labor force (they have jobs or are seeking jobs) was 82.2 percent in April compared to 82.8 percent in April 2009 and 80.8 percent in April 2014.
Recently, Von Son said, there has been an increase in agriculture job openings. There are also jobs available in manufacturing.
There are not many people using job bureau services who have recently been out of the workforce and are returning now, Von Son said. In fact, she can think of only two such clients recently.
"Some folks I think just need opportunities to get training," Von Son said.