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I didn't initially think about it, but in the conversations about substance abuse, workforce readiness, skills gaps, educational levels, and other barriers to employment, could we all be talking past each other?
In researching "Workforce Woes," it became obvious that there was far more interest in the politics of Gov. Tom Corbett's statements than the factors (including substance abuse) that may reasonably contribute to unemployment.
So we looked at both sides of the equation: How serious is the problem of substance use and abuse, and where does it fit with other factors? You can read the second part of Workforce Woes next week.
Certainly companies have legitimate concerns when they have to go through hundreds of applicants and find many who fail or refuse drug tests, as Penn Waste Inc. President and Owner Scott Wagner outlined on his blog.
But in the discourse over the last month, this part got glossed over: How many companies are hiring or expect to hire people in coming months?
Turns out, just 18 percent of Pennsylvania companies plan to hire, while 78 percent will either maintain their staff levels or cut staff (6 percent), according to ManpowerGroup.
That's huge. In a way, it's not surprising that the few companies who are hiring for limited positions have to sift through hundreds of applicants, with high percentages of disappointment.
On a less depressing, high-tech manufacturing note, did you see that Tesla Motors paid off its $465 million loan to the government? Guess we'll just have to see where the high-end electric car market goes from here.
Although Memorial Day honors those men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our nation, we could certainly honor their legacy by employing those who come home. Here's a story about Kennametal Inc. and other manufacturers hiring veterans.
Are you hiring?
Jim T. Ryan covers Cumberland County, manufacturing, transportation and workforce issues. Have a tip or question for him? Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow him on Twitter, @JimTRyanCPBJ.