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New Report Shows Utah Employers Can't Find Enough Qualified Workers

Utah Foundation
71% of companies reported some level of difficulty finding enough skilled or qualified employees.

Utah companies can’t find enough qualified workers to fill the ranks according to a new report from the non-partisan research group Utah Foundation.

More than 150 businesses across the state participated this summer in the Utah Foundation survey.  The companies typically had more than 500 employees and have been around for a couple of decades. Utah Foundation Research Analyst Christopher Collard says most respondents say it’s hard to find qualified employees, especially those with graduate degrees.

“It’s both the higher level of education that are harder to find, but also the people that don’t necessarily have a college degree but have some sort of technical or industry certification,” Collard says.

Collard says the composite manufacturing industry as well as high tech software and hardware manufacturing industries are rapidly expanding in Utah.

Jeff Edwards is president and CEO of Economic Development Corporation of Utah. He says kids need more opportunities to explore their career options. And he says schools need more guidance counselors. They’ve disappeared over the years, as a result of budget cuts.

“I meet so many college students today that are just lost, that change majors time after time after time because they’re not quite sure what they want to do,” Edwards says. “And I’m convinced that if they had a good well-structured conversation with a councilor back when they were in 7th and 8th and 9th grade that might have influenced them. And then if you’d give them a chance to go out into the workforce and see what that’s like, that changes things as well.”

The report also shows Utah wages aren’t very competitive. Collard says that’s likely due to a lack of competition.

On a positive note, employers say Utah’s work ethic is the best quality of its labor force. 

Whittney Evans grew up southern Ohio and has worked in public radio since 2005. She has a communications degree from Morehead State University in Morehead, Kentucky, where she learned the ropes of reporting, producing and hosting. Whittney moved to Utah in 2009 where she became a reporter, producer and morning host at KCPW. Her reporting ranges from the hyper-local issues affecting Salt Lake City residents, to state-wide issues of national interest. Outside of work, she enjoys playing the guitar and getting to know the breathtaking landscape of the Mountain West.
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