Business leaders share workforce concerns

LIMA — There are more than 250,000 incorporated businesses in Ohio, and 97% of them are firms with 100 or fewer workers. But almost every one of them is concerned about an adequate workforce.

Gordon Gough, president and CEO of the Ohio Council of Retail Merchants, told business leaders Wednesday that “people are applying for jobs, on boarded, filling out all their information, including giving their banking information for payroll, and don’t show up for the job.”

The Ohio Big 6 Business Leaders Regional Thought Roundtable was on the road in Lima on Wednesday meeting at the Shawnee Country Club with representatives of local businesses.

Other speakers on the roundtable were Roger R. Craig, vice president and Ohio executive director of the National Federation of Independent Business; Pat Tiberi, president and CEO of the Ohio Business Roundtable; Steve Stivers, president and CEO of Ohio Chamber of Commerce; Jack Irvin, vice president of public policy for Ohio Farm Bureau Federation; and Nick Miller, director of member services for Ohio Manufacturers’ Association.

There have been studies on why people are not returning to the workforce after the pandemic. The conclusions of these varied studies are inconclusive. Why people are not choosing to work is an enigma.

“Finding the right people so that your company can continue to grow and thrive and keep producing is the lifeblood of really any business,” Miller said. “The Ohio Manufacturing Association is working hard in this area as well as working to partner with trade schools, technical schools, those great four-year institutions, to really focus on what are the specific needs. How we can all work together to advance and get those people into the workforce and realize there are great opportunities outside the four-year education.”

Geiger said that two major areas of concerns are workforce and education.

“We need everybody in this state to be ready and able to enter the workforce. Jobs, Jobs, jobs,” he said. “Filling those jobs is a critical element. We need more business engagement in schools. We have to have that business input. We on the business side have to be engaged and be willing too. The education community has to be receptive and willing to participate with us because we’re the folks who employ, so we need to have everybody ready. We need to do a better job of accountability. We need to show and demonstrate to fifth- and sixth-graders what a great opportunity they can have in the skilled trades.”

Tiberi was concerned about recent trends.

“The bad news is that we’re short on workers,” he said. “Our demographic trend hasn’t been and isn’t good. Today on the Ohio Means Jobs website, we have 221,000 openings — over half that pay over $50,000 with benefits. The problems are only going to get worse. The projections over the next eight years, so by 2030, the job deficit in Ohio will be between 600,000 to 750,000 workers needed to fill all the jobs. That’s incredible, but it’s a great opportunity.

“It’s a great opportunity to make sure that Ohio kids have an opportunity to work in Ohio. We are losing many of our kids. While our peer states keep 70% of the graduates from college, we’re at about 56%. We are seeing some positive trends in terms of job opportunities all across the spectrum, not necessarily for a top college graduate only, maybe a young man or woman with a two-year degree or credential or certificate. Every one of our CEOs struggles with workforce. There’s never been a better time in our history as a state where employees have better opportunities.”

Reach Dean Brown at 567-242-0409.

Dean Brown
Dean Brown joined The Lima News in 2022 as a reporter. Prior to The Lima News, Brown was an English teacher in Allen County for 38 years, with stops at Perry, Shawnee, Spencerville and Heir Force Community School. So they figured he could throw a few sentences together about education and business in the area. An award-winning photographer, Brown likes watching old black and white movies, his dog, his wife and kids, and the four grandkids - not necessarily in that order. Reach him at [email protected] or 567-242-0409.