Businesses Discuss Workforce Challenges and Opportunities

Area employers continue to discuss the challenges of finding quality employees. Low unemployment rates have led to higher base wages, training and advancement opportunities, and other incentives for employees. Businesses in the Berwick area recently shared ideas during a business roundtable meeting held at the Central Susquehanna Community Foundation.

Common themes across the area include the need to strengthen basic employability skills, and difficulty in recruiting employees to a rural area. Recognizing that retaining young people is a key component of a strong workforce, the Chamber’s Foundation coordinates or supports several programs in area schools to help build skills in children. A website is being launched this fall in coordination with the Central Pennsylvania Workforce Development Corporation to increase the awareness among students and their parents of the quality opportunities and employers that exist in our area, and to facilitate connections with these local employers. Understanding the culture of younger generations is also important in attracting new talent and was the subject of a recent seminar offered by the Chamber and PA CareerLink Columbia/Montour Counties.

To meet workforce demands today, employers are increasing base wages and adjusting work schedules to provide longer weekends and greater flexibility for employees to spend with families and attend to personal matters. Members are using the Chamber’s online jobs page and conference for employee recruiting.  As management positions are increasing being filled by existing employees, Leadership Central Penn provides programming to strengthen leadership skills, and the Chamber and its Foundation are working on another program to offer leadership and management training.

Workforce development is multi-faceted. Having an area that is an attractive place to live, work, and raise a family is critical. Individuals need to understand the expectations of the workplace and have basic skills while employers need to be sensitive to the needs of their employees. Access to training and professional development opportunities are important to allowing committed employees to evolve with their organizations. With so many area employers ready and willing to grow, the Chamber and its Foundation are involved in all of these areas so that these organizations are able to grow.