Employers and Workforce experts told Texas lawmakers Tuesday that businesses are having difficulty filling thousands of vacant positions across the state because of a shortage of skilled workers, according to the Austin American Statesman.
“Our state leaders are fond of the expression ‘Texas is wide open for business,’ but I fear there’s an increasing risk that the help-wanted signs may go unanswered for many employers,” said Joe Arnold, workforce chairman for the Texas Association of Manufacturers.
The state Senate Committee on Business and Commerce heard from witnesses who provided national statistics and anecdotal information about workforce conditions in Texas, but no hard data regarding a shortage of skilled workers in Texas.
Still, Texas Workforce Commission Chairman Tom Pauken cited studies saying skilled workers are scarce nationwide and that four out of five employers surveyed report a moderate or severe shortage of production workers.
“I hear these same concerns echoed by employers in Texas,” Pauken said.
Jane Hanna, president of the Construction Education Foundation, said despite a healthy migration of people into Texas, skilled workers aren’t always among them.
“We’re not seeing this migration of skilled workers moving across the country,” she said, noting that the average age of a skilled craftsman is 49.
“This is a critical, critical impasse we are reaching,” Hanna added.
Other committee witnesses blamed the suspected shortage of skilled workers on everything from the recession to drugs, aging baby boomers, and a state education policy that has a bias toward four-year college degrees and doesn’t meet the real needs of today’s employers.
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