September 13, 2017 – September is Workforce Development Month! As such, we invited Celina Kirnberger, Business Services Supervisor at the Mesa County Workforce Center, to share her reflections on the current job market in Colorado’s Grand Valley:

It’s amazing to think that just seven months ago we still considered ourselves to be in a recession with a local unemployment rate at over 5%. Things had been “moving in the right direction” for the longest time and then it seemed like overnight they flip flopped. At the beginning of the year the job market was such that many unemployed were desperate to find jobs to apply for and employers had plenty of candidates to choose from. Then the month of March came around and the unemployment rate dropped by 1.5%. It was such great news; just what we had been waiting for! But would it stick around; was this the new economic picture? In fact it seems to be here to stay. Mesa County has been in the 3% unemployment rate range for five months straight so now we are seeing just the opposite scenario of what we had at the beginning of the year. We now have a copious amount of job openings and are facing new challenges in filling them. Candidates have their pick of job opportunities and employers are struggling because they are short staffed and can’t fill vacancies fast enough.

The struggle is very real for companies right now and it impacts business. Now is the time for companies to be creative and try different avenues both in how they are recruiting and how they are investing in the labor force. On the recruiting front, companies should take a moment to look at how they are marketing their vacancies. Is it the same way you’ve been doing it for years? When was the last time you updated your job descriptions? Are you using multiple resources to advertise? Are you utilizing social media platforms? Are you making sure potential candidates know why it would be great to work for you? Depending on how you answer these questions can make a huge difference on attracting talent. Sometimes no matter what you do to market your company and its career opportunities you still aren’t able to meet your demand, particularly if you are looking for an experienced candidate. If an employer finds themselves in this situation, the first question to them would be have they looked for internal potential? Are there any staff who currently work there that with a little bit of training and guidance could fill that next level position? Benefits of promoting from within are increased staff morale and it typically is easier to fill the entry level position that would be remaining after moving that line level staff up. If you do not have any staff that can be promoted, would you be able/willing to train a new person that has some of the skills you’re looking for? If you can find someone, for instance, that has leadership experience in a similar field then maybe you could bring them on in a supervisory role and train them on the particulars of your field. You could utilize On-the-Job (OJT) training programs to help reduce onboarding costs as well as consider an apprenticeship program to help with succession planning. Succession planning is critical for organizational success, but that is a whole other story!

For those employers out there that are struggling, I hope this has been some food for thought. Remember to utilize your business connections as networking opportunities and don’t forget that there are programs out there to assist you in your efforts. We’re all in this together!

Contact the Mesa County Workforce Center to learn more about programs that support employers and employees.

About the Author

Celina Kirnberger
Business Services Supervisor
Mesa County Workforce Center

Celina Kirnberger has a Bachelor’s degree in Counseling Psychology and has worked for Mesa County in various positions, including contract positions through Hilltop Community Resources, since 2012. Celina has been in her current role as Business Services Supervisor at the Workforce Center since December of 2015, where she oversees the Employment Services and Professional Services programs at the Workforce Center. Celina truly believes the Mesa County Workforce Center is a key community partner and loves to collaborate on how the Workforce Center can put its services to work for you (no matter who you are).