Economic Development

Staffing Agencies Seek Candidates in Tight Market

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — There are plenty of job openings for workers who possess certain skills, staffing agencies confirm, but in many instances basic qualifications such as passing a drug test are lacking. Still, employers keep looking.

Cyndy Bresnahan, business services representative at the Mahoning County OhioMeansJobs office in Boardman, says she’s seeing an upswing in employee recruitment events.

“It seems like all of a sudden we’re getting a lot of calls from staffing agencies,” she says. Much of the demand she sees is diesel mechanics, maintenance mechanics, drivers with a commercial driver’s license, or CDL, and state-tested nurses aides.

In many cases, she says, there aren’t enough qualified people to fill demand, particularly for the mechanics and CDL positions. “The people who are qualified are already working so the only way you’re going to get them is to steal them from someplace else,” she says.

As for the STNA openings, the pay for the positions might not be as great as compared to the hours required. “That’s why we’re having a hard time to fill those openings,” she remarks.

The candidate pool was “very low during November and December but has been “very strong” in January and February, reports Thad Smith, vice president of administration and shared services at Callos Companies, Boardman. “A lot of qualified candidates are coming into our offices,” he says.

Demand from employers is strong, particularly in the automotive and retail distribution sectors, Smith says. “Folks didn’t seem to think lower gas prices really would have an overall effect,” he says. “I think that’s a big part of the increase in consumer spending.”

Callos looks at factors such longevity at previous jobs and identifying any reasons for any extended gaps in employment, Smith says. People who are job hoppers “probably are not” strong candidates for some of the firm’s clients, he says.

Trying to screen for soft skills such as just showing up when scheduled can sometimes be a challenge. “Passing a drug test has long been an issue with the type of clients we deal with,” Smith adds.

At Alliance Solutions Group, demand is strong across all of its divisions, says Victor Ing, president of the Mahoning Valley branch in Austintown. Its divisions include health care, skilled manufacturing and financial solutions.

“Confidence is high. People are hiring,” Ing says. While many companies are using more temporary workers than they have in the past, Alliance “is doing a large number of direct hires,” he reports.

“The more specialized and specific the need, the more demand we see,” Ing says. “But we also see demand for good-old-fashioned laborers. That has never gone away.” Demand for manufacturing workers “continues to grow and be strong,” he says.

Still, a portion of the population remains, “in a traditional sense, unemployable,” he acknowledges.

“They’re never going to pass a drug test. They’re never going to make it to work on time,” Ing says. “We’re not interested in those candidates. We’re interested in those people who are underemployed, or not getting enough hours or on the wrong shift for their life.”

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.