There were a lot of head-nodding moments — and more than a few surprises — when business leaders gathered to hear the results of a countywide workforce study Tuesday at the Hyatt Regency Savannah.
While noting Savannah’s workforce issues are not unique, the study identified several areas that need improvement, with many job candidates exhibiting a lack of training, education and/or experience.
Both employees and employers cited transportation issues, including a lack of public transportation to the workplace, as a barrier to employment, while employers put a heavier emphasis on soft skills than did their applicants.
Human resources managers said they were less satisfied with potential job candidates’ oral and written communication, math and computer skills, professional behavior, punctuality and business etiquette and more satisfied with productivity, job safety, teamwork, attitude, reliability, attendance and work ethic.
An accurate measure
“For years, we’ve been hearing about various workforce issues in this area,” said Bill Hubbard, president and CEO of the Savannah Area Chamber of Commerce, which teamed with the Savannah Economic Development Authority and the United Way of the Coastal Empire to sponsor the study.
“But for the most part, what we’ve heard has been anecdotal — there’s this problem here, that strength there.
“We wanted to find out what everyone was experiencing so we would have a sense of common shortcomings as well as strengths and move as a community toward finding solutions.”
Two parallel studies, conducted by Armstrong Atlantic State University economist Mike Toma and SEDA economic research manager Leia Dedic, looked at the countywide workforce from the perspective of human resource professionals, job seekers and available workforce training providers.
“From SEDA’s perspective, the top two things prospective companies look at when they consider Savannah are infrastructure and workforce,” said SEDA president Trip Tollison.
“We know we have the infrastructure, but we needed a better understanding of our workforce, both the positives and the negatives.”
The good, the bad and the surprising
After looking at the study results, Tollison and Hubbard agreed there were some surprising conclusions.
“For one, employers indicated that the number of job applicants they reject due to positive drug screens is considerably lower than we expected based on anecdotal information,” Tollison said.
Toma’s research showed fewer than 20 percent failed drug, background or credit checks.
“And talking to HR managers one-on-one, I would say that number is high,” Toma said.
Perhaps the most surprising statistic revealed by the survey related to the employability of job seekers with criminal convictions.
While potential employees with criminal records saw that fact as the No. 1 barrier to employment — many saying it prevents them from even applying for positions — employers were not nearly as harsh.
Some 81 percent of hiring managers would consider an applicant with a misdemeanor conviction; while an unexpected 21 percent said a felony conviction would not automatically preclude an applicant from consideration.
• 61 organizations in Chatham County offer 221 workforce programs, but one organization — Savannah Technical College — delivers 63 percent of them.
• All identified people groups (single mothers, ex-offenders, veterans, etc.) are served and taking advantage of the workforce programs
• There are programs available for each skill gap identified; however, effectiveness was not measured and skill gaps are still being identified by employers.
• 83 percent of new jobs in Chatham County require only a highschool diploma or less.
• 67 percent of employers offer some type of job training, and 57 percent said they would be willing to hire an applicant without the necessary skills and train them if they had the right set of soft skills, including customer service, internal communications and teamwork skills.
For Tollison, the biggest takeaway was this:
“If you want a skill in this town, you can get it. And if you have good soft skills, most companies are willing to hire and train you.”
Aside from very real funding issues, the study indicated that most workforce development organizations lack marketing and outreach programs, which contributes to awareness issues.
Indeed, only 28 percent of employers contact workforce organizations for help with training.
But employers aren’t the only ones with perception issues, the study suggests.
In addition to overestimating the negative effect of prior convictions, job seekers tend to underestimate the importance of professional behavior, appearance, the ability to work as a member of a team and other soft skills in winning and keeping a good job.
And like employers, potential employees demonstrated low awareness of available workforce programs.
I was raised on a farm. So I know all too well the challenges of farm life. And I recognize the importance of working safely to prevent injuries.
In recognition of National Farm Safety Week, which is March 14 to 20, I have attached a media release from the Canada Safety Council below:
Farms across Canada vary in size, what they produce and how many people they employ. But like all other workplaces, there are inherent on-the-job safety hazards that need to be addressed in order to prevent injuries and save lives.
Agriculture ranks the fourth most hazardous industry in Canada, with 12.9 deaths per 100,000 farm population. From 1990 to 2008, an average of 104 people died every year from agricultural incidents in Canada, according to the Canadian Agricultural Injury Reporting (CAIR) program.
Along with the human cost, unintentional injuries have significant financial implications that total approximately $374 million each year. These unintentional injuries are the result of incidents such as motor vehicle collisions, entanglements with farm machinery, and rollovers.
Unintentional injuries are preventable injuries. The right attitude toward safety and the right training saves lives. This National Farm Safety Week, from March 14 to 20, the Canada Safety Council encourages all farm operators and employees to seek proper training to ensure the safe operation of all vehicles and machinery on the farm.
The farming environment
Farms are more than just work sites; they are places where people of all ages live and play. Children grow up contributing to the family’s farming operation, while many seasoned farmers never officially retire and continue working well into their golden years. For many, farming is more than a job – it is a way of life.
A big part of this lifestyle involves the operation of machinery – everything from trucks to tractors, combines, ATVs, ARGOs and snowmobiles. Sadly, 70 per cent of agricultural fatalities involve machines.
The right training, including refresher courses and regular conversations about the safe operation of machinery, can equip farm workers, visitors and those who live on farms with life-saving information and a safety-first attitude.
•Teach children safety fundamentals. This includes clearly identifying where farm machinery and vehicles are operated, and where they may not play. Children need to develop a healthy respect for the potential dangers of being near a moving machine or vehicle, and learn how to stay safe.
•If you are the owner/operator of a farm, clearly communicate to your staff that risk-taking involving machinery or vehicles is not allowed or tolerated. Your employees should understand that you expect them to always operate in a safe manner. This includes no speeding and no impaired or distracted driving.
•Make sure operators are competent, confident and capable when it comes to using machinery. If additional training or instruction is necessary, make safety the priority. Take the time to read manuals, ask questions and consult industry experts who can give you answers.
The Canada Safety Council offers the following safety training courses that may be of interest to farm operators and employees.
•ARGO Operator Course
•ATV Rider Course
•Confined Spaces Training Course
•Ladder Safety Training Course
•Snowmobile Operators Course
•Utility Terrain Vehicle (UTV) Side by Side Course •WHMIS (Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System) Training Course
Take the time to get the training you need to stay safe on the farm. It’s an investment in safety with a lifetime of benefits!
Follow Irene Seiberling on Twitter at https://twitter.com/ISeiberling
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CREATED Mar. 8, 2014
Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) — Members of the Culinary and Bartenders Unions reached a tentative agreement for a new five-year contract with the Riviera Casino on Friday.
The tentative agreement will cover hundreds of workers in food and beverage, housekeeping, cocktails and the bell departments.
The negotiating committee, which is made up of workers from varied departments, worked with the company to reach terms that safeguard benefits and will help bring back jobs.
Negotiations began last summer following the previous contract’s expiration on June 1, 2013. The agreement was reached on March 7, 2014.
The economic package, agreed to by both parties, mirrors exactly what has been agreed to by the unions and other employers. Workers will keep their high-quality health insurance.
Changes were negotiated for food and beverage operations to allow for flexibility in closed and distressed venues with the goals of reopening shops and bringing workers back to their jobs.
New housekeeping language will increase job safety by creating measures designed to deal with hazardous work conditions.
The union will continue negotiations with the remaining unsettled houses: LVH, Treasure Island, Stratosphere, Plaza, Las Vegas Club, Binion’s, 4 Queens, The D, Fremont, Main Street Station, Golden Nugget, El Cortez, Golden Gate, Jerry’s Nugget and Brady Laundries.
On Saturday, workers from across the Las Vegas Strip and downtown will be picketing at the Stratosphere.
The Tropicana said Thursday it reached tentative agreement on a new five-year labor contract with Culinary Local 226 and Bartenders Local 165, covering some 650 nongaming employees at the Strip resort.
The deal with between the hotel and the negotiating committee still needs to be ratified by the employees.
The Tropicana is the first independent hotel-casino to reach agreement with the unions on a new five-year contract to replace deals that expired in June 2013.
The unions had previously reached deals covering casinos operated by MGM Resorts International and Caesars Entertainment that cover nearly 20 Strip resorts.
The Tropicana deal comes as union members prepare to vote on a strike authorization that could lead to walkouts at several Strip and downtown hotel-casinos.
“We are thrilled that our collaboration with Tropicana has resulted in reaching an agreement that is mutually beneficial,” Culinary secretary treasurer Geoconda Arguello-Kline said in a statement.
The economic package, agreed to by both parties, mirrors what was agreed to with MGM Resorts and Caesars.
Workers will keep their health insurance. Also, changes were negotiated for food and beverage operations to allow for flexibility in closed and distressed venues with the goals of reopening shops and bringing workers back to their jobs.
New housekeeping language will increase job safety by creating measures designed to deal with hazardous work conditions.
Employees covered by the contract include workers in food and beverage, housekeeping, cocktails and the bell departments.
A date for a ratification vote was not set.
Contact reporter Howard Stutz at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-477-3871. Follow @howardstutz on Twitter.
Delaware’s snowy winter has been especially difficult for the thousands in our state who can’t find good jobs to support themselves and their families, or who feel trapped in jobs that don’t pay them enough to meet their needs and plan for their futures. They read about record days for the stock market, growing GDP or rising home prices, and they feel like they’re falling behind.
I see it every day in the district I represent, and my colleagues in Legislative Hall see it where they live also. It’s our duty to try to change things for the better during our terms in office, to put forth ideas that will broaden prosperity in our state and give the people we represent the best opportunity to provide for their families.
It’s also our duty to speak up when we hear others talking about ideas that we know will do more to harm the prosperity of Delaware’s middle class than they will to lift it.
Recently, some elected officials have suggested Delaware move toward becoming a “right to work” state, limiting workers’ ability to organize and negotiate.
A plan has been presented to designate stand-alone “right to work” zones at certain industrial sites in Delaware; zones where unions would be handicapped in their ability to represent workers’ interests and collectively bargain with the companies employing them.
Though the doctrine of “right to work” is presented as a pro-jobs, pro-worker concept, the term itself is misleading. In fact, “right to work” has almost nothing to do with the rights of workers, and everything to do with a certain partisan, anti-union message presented on behalf of big business.
I have lived in a union household my entire life. My dad was a union electrician for over 30 years. For many years, I worked in the office of a union contracting company. And my husband was a member of the United Auto Workers for 29 years until General Motors closed its Boxwood Road plant in Newport. One of these “right to work” zones being proposed is the former GM plant, which is right next to my district.
Several states across the country have adopted “right to work” laws of some form over the years, which means we can compare prosperity in states where organized labor is free to represent workers and states where workers’ rights to organize are curtailed.
A 2012 report from the Congressional Research Service, a nonpartisan agency of Congress, showed there is no conclusive evidence proving “right to work” laws spur job growth or reduce unemployment.
The CRS did find hard evidence that shows average wages are $7,000 lower per person in “right to work” states than in states that respect the role of unions. That is a huge hit for families when every dollar counts.
The report also cited research showing better records of on-the-job safety and lower rates of work-related injuries in states where unions are more active.
The union jobs that supported me and my family through the years are exactly the kind of jobs we wish we had more of in Delaware and across the country: a mix of skilled and unskilled positions that came with stability, good wages and benefits families can count on.
The rationale behind the “right to work” plans floated here recently is that companies will be more likely to locate in Delaware if they don’t have to worry about their workers someday attempting to negotiate their pay, benefits and working conditions. It’s hanging out a sign to the corporate world that says “Come to Delaware, where they’ll work cheap!”
That’s not the message I want to send to the thousands of people I represent who hope each day for a better opportunity, for fairness and for a chance to grab the next rung on the ladder.
Kim Williams represents the 19th District in the Delaware House of Representatives.
Cliffs Natural Resources officials gave an update to community members this morning in Marquette.
Guests were treated to breakfast before new company president and CEO Gary Halverson spoke on topics like lowered operational costs in 2013. He also gave safety statistics, stressing the importance of on-and-off-the-job safety and how to achieve it.
“We have divisions and groups of people and mines that have gone for millions of man hours without having an incident so when you look at those individual track records I think we take each day at a time for each of our employees and what our employees can do to follow, to look at the hazards that exist and eliminate those and make sure that we don’t work unsafely,” Halverson said.
Halverson has been with Cliffs for just over three months and one of the first things he did was to shut down chromite and nickel development in Canada. He also spoke about the company’s environmental stewardship.
“And then in iron ore, in the U.S. side, we hit our stretch goals,” Halverson said. “And so that just means that, for example, Hibbing and Empire had zero water quality excursions in 2013. I think that’s a fantastic reflection on the management here.”
Cliffs recently announced that the Empire Mine operation will remain open through the end of 2016. Halverson credited those who worked hard to find ways to create and sustain growth in the region.
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When I went to the stockroom and saw the mess, I asked the VP if I could take some extra time at lunch to go home and bring some work clothes back so I could straighten up the stockroom after work. I stayed late and completely organized it.
When employees arrived the next day, the stockroom was in order, with everything in its place on the correct shelves. I dressed professionally every day thereafter. I was promoted two weeks later to the Office of Bank Money Orders, where I worked in solitude for 10 days to organize, sort, file and record years of old documents.
I was then promoted to three more departments and was offered a full-time position, with the additional offer of pay for night-school classes, which I accepted for one year before returning to college full time.
No matter which job I had, I showed up in a sports jacket, white shirt, pressed slacks and dress shoes. My parents told me to “look my best and do more than what is expected of you, and you will always succeed.”
I graduated with a degree in economics, finance and marketing, and became an entrepreneur, then a bank’s executive vice president, and finally a CEO of a large metro trade association. I am retired now, but I am an active volunteer student supporter in Florida. Tell recent college graduates to perform the positive instead of looking at the negative, and to not follow the crowd but set an example by leading.
A: Your advice is right on target, and your experience confirms it. It worked for you throughout your career, and it would work for any bright, new graduate with a strong work ethic.
Parents ingrain messages in their children, both positive and negative. Your parents built a strong and positive foundation of support for you, which is why you are able to share it with students today.
Values and work ethic translate into one’s personality, which is more important at work than the information obtained in school. Of course, a person has to be able to perform the job, but it’s often one’s personality that ties into positive results that help the person get ahead.
Pass on your parents’ advice to every student you meet. It should help put an end to the “entitlement attitude,” which will only lead to poor work relationships and a disappointing résumé.
HOW TO WORK WITH A BIPOLAR BOSS WITHOUT QUITTING
Q: From everything I’ve read, I can tell my boss is bipolar. His mood swings are sudden and erratic, but I like the job too much to quit. What should I do?
A: Don’t be a slave to money. Know that he cannot change, and your emotional and physical health is crucial. If you can safely ignore his negative mood swings, stay. If the verbal abuse affects you, start a job search and be careful what you tell potential employers. If his moods swings turn physical, quit immediately, file for unemployment, report all the abusive incidents, and look for a new job. Safety comes first.
Email your questions to workplace expert Lindsey Novak at LindseyNovak@yahoo.com and follow her on Twitter I–truly–care.
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