October 12, 2021

Annual Indiana Chamber survey: Employers struggle to find enough qualified workers

A KFC and Taco Bell location in South Bend temporarily closed due to staffing issues. - Justin Hicks/IPB News

A KFC and Taco Bell location in South Bend temporarily closed due to staffing issues.

Justin Hicks/IPB News

Hoosier businesses are back to dealing with the issues that were top of mind prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. The annual Indiana Chamber of Commerce survey shows more than half say they are unable to find enough qualified workers. 

In the latest Indiana Chamber employer workforce survey, 72 percent of businesses in Indiana told the chamber the supply of applicants does not meet their needs, up from 50 percent last year.

Jason Bearce is the chamber’s vice president of education and workforce development. He said businesses can no longer avoid addressing external factors including child care, housing and transportation.

“Increasingly, I think employers are recognizing that one, they have to, they have to market their community and what the community has to offer as much as they're marketing their individual business,” said Bearce. “But also these kind of wraparound type supports – that historically have not really been considered to be the employer's role – are at least part of the consideration employees are making when they think about, you know, where to work.”

Bearce said to attract and retain workers, businesses have to become more creative and not wait for the perfect candidate to walk through the door.

READ MORE: Researchers: Solution to skilled worker shortage could be educated immigrants

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The survey also finds Hoosier businesses are optimistic about growth over the next one to two years.

Bearce said it’s encouraging to see how many businesses report they are looking to grow their workforce over the next couple of years.

“The flip side of that, though, is the premium to find qualified workers is that much more of a pain point for employers, which has been exacerbated by the fact that there weren't enough skilled workers to go around pre-pandemic,” he said.

Bearce said the survey also showed opportunities for employers to do more outreach to K-12 schools to educate and make students aware of potential careers.

Contact reporter Samantha at shorton@wfyi.org or follow her on Twitter at @SamHorton5.

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