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Shortage of skilled workers hurting business

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WKYT) - Even with all the frustration over unemployment, there are others who have the opposite problem: companies unable to find enough skilled workers to meet their needs. One Frankfort company has had to turn down jobs because they say they just can't find enough qualified workers.

"It's frustrating to see the news, read the newspaper and see the high level of unemployment we have in this country and to think that we have opportunities for people here and just cannot find them," said Phil Plant, Vice President of Art's Electric in Frankfort.

He said shortages of qualified skilled workers are affecting business.

"Turning down bid opportunities, turning down work when it's been offered to you is a very difficult and frustrating endeavor," he said.

Art's Electric advertises journeyman electrician openings, but get hardly any qualified applicants. Officials with the state Workforce Development Cabinet say that's reflective of a statewide shortage in skilled workers. According to their numbers, there's a nine-percent gap between Kentucky jobs that require technical skills and workers who possess them.

"The root of the problem is, if you don't go to college for a four-year degree, somehow people think that you've failed and that's what we've got to get rid of," said Plant.

Beth Brinley, Commissioner of Workforce Investment, agrees.

"We always have believed that you had to have a baccalaureate or master's degree, but I often say, take a look at who's living in a gated community and it's the plumbers, the HVAC, the auto mechanics, and others. They're really high-skilled, technical jobs that pay really well," she said.

Workforce development officials said they expect that skills gap to narrow over the next few years, but only by a couple of percentage points.


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