At the heart of this problem - not surprisingly - is the S.C. Employment Security Commission, which administers a massive job placement network that cost millions of taxpayer dollars to create (including individual offices with bureaucrats and staff in every S.C. county).
Sadly, though, this network is failing miserably when it comes to actually placing people in jobs.
Over the past eighteen months, the ESC’s “One-Stop” network has received 127,055 S.C. job orders - or open positions needing employees to fill them - but has filled only 57,250 (or 45.1%) of these positions.
Exactly 69,805 jobs have been left unfilled, which is interesting when you consider that there are exactly 68,071 people currently claiming unemployment insurance in South Carolina at the moment.
We like Will, we've stuck up for him on more than one occasion in situations where we were probably one of his few defenders, and we think he's gotten a raw deal on a few occasions. Even though we think he has some legitimate concerns on this issue, there was a lot more that deserved an informed response.
Yours truly serves on the Trident Workforce Investment Board. We oversee some of the One Stop Centers he questioned, working in partnership with the much-criticized Employment Security Commission. So that means I actully know what he was talking about, and a lot of it presented out of context and just plain wrong.
First, Workforce Investment Boards, which oversee the One Stop Centers, are oversighted by Governor Sanford’s Department of Commerce, NOT the ESC. Quoting the SCDoC website:
In South Carolina, the Workforce Division of the South Carolina Department of Commerce is committed to ensuring that South Carolinians have the education and training necessary to fill the most in-demand jobs. The division works with a diverse array of public and private partners to carry out this objective, and all of the division’s activities are designed to achieve this goal.
Matching the needs of business for skilled workers and the training, education and employment needs of individuals, the Workforce Division seeks to provide customers timely information and services through a “One-Stop” system. The One-Stops assist in finding appropriate training for adults and enable smooth coordination with industries, education and economic development allowing customers to get the information and services they need. Adults are empowered to obtain the training they find most appropriate through individual training accounts. This system ensures that all state and local programs meet customer expectations.
Maybe that's a problem, but he needs to direct it to the Governor's office for an answer. Since they're not doing anything about dead kids or embezzlement at SC DSS, another Cabinet agency, maybe they'll have time to take his questions.
But that's not the only hole we saw in what he said. There were more.
The attempt to compare X number of openings to Y number of unemployed is not a good means of comparison. Many of those jobs are part-time or “executive pay” insurance sales scams, employers who fail to report they filled an opening (as an HR person, I’m guilty of that mistake more than once), etc., it’s going to look bad. If they were well-paying jobs, they often use recruiters or paid advertising to reach more targeted audiences in the first place
The One Stop and ESC staff are generalists with no ability or resources to reach out for candidates, such as trade publications and professional networks, or specific industry knowledge. They try to fill everything from fast food to warehouse to construction trades with whoever walks in the door and they often won’t be able to fill needs as fast as a private recruiter, or as well, for a more skilled or advanced position.
South Carolina has long had a shortage of skilled labor to fill many positions, which is a big reason why jobs aren’t getting filled. A lot of companies choose not to come to this state, and others leave, because of the lack of skilled workers. The Trident WIB recently set up a welding training program to help retain a defense manufacturer and won national recognition for the program all because the company could not find sixty welders - something that was shocking given the large population in the Charleston area.
This is what we're up against - a state which is not competitive with workforces in other states, and in some cases other nations. There are problems which deserve a close look and questions must be asked - one of which is why ESC even exists as an independent agency and not folded into some cabinet agency along with what the One Stop centers do. There are no easy answers or quick fixes and taking misinformed potshots isn't helping us get any closer to solving these problems.