Lower unemployment creates hiring obstacles

Jan. 19, 2013 at midnight
Updated Jan. 19, 2013 at 7:20 p.m.

Texas Glass and Tinting is looking for workers. In fact, it has been for a while.

But finding applicants isn't the issue, said Donald Day, the company's owner and president. It's finding employable people.

The Victoria businessman said that between the lack of skilled labor and problems that arise during background checks and drug tests about 80 percent of those who apply simply can't be hired.

The issue is nothing new in the Crossroads, Day said. He's experienced the problem for years, but the region's low unemployment rates have compounded the trouble.

Victoria County sat at 5.1 percent unemployment in December, according to data from the Texas Workforce Commission. That's down from the year before, when it saw 5.7 percent.

Although that lower percentage means more people finding work in the Crossroads, it introduces its own set of obstacles, said Randy Vivian, president and CEO of the Victoria Chamber of Commerce.

It takes time to train people for the types of jobs on the rise in the region, he explained, noting that truck drivers need commercial licenses and so on. When the immediate region doesn't offer an adequate applicant pool, he added, then comes the challenge of looking outside the Crossroads.

Vivian said he remembers years ago when Victoria's unemployment rate sat at 3.7 percent. At that point, he said, the city considered launching ad campaigns up north, where unemployment was higher, to draw workers to the Crossroads.

"It'll have to be something we look at again," he said. "We've got jobs to fill, and we're going to have to start looking outside the city and state."

Vivian called the issue a double-edged sword because, although it might be difficult to fill certain positions, expanded searches allow a chance to bring in new blood and additional tax dollars.

As for Day, he attributed the lower unemployment to general growth in the Crossroads, including the region's ongoing Eagle Ford Shale drilling.

When it comes to solving the lack of employable people, however, he suggested a couple of things.

Searching outside the region is one option, he said, but the answer lies within society.

People need to understand that their actions - criminal pasts, drug use and even speeding tickets, which could make it impossible to obtain work where they would need to drive - all have consequences.

"That's probably the most important thing," he said. "It doesn't matter if you have a doctorate degree. If I can't hire you to drive one of my vehicles, I can't hire you."



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