A skilled workforce, adaptable to the needs of business is vital for a strong local economy. Workforce development questions provided opportunity for business owners to advise of workforce patterns and identify issues related to labor force availability, attraction, retention, and stability.

Workforce Change
Ninety-five percent of businesses advised that they had increased their workforce within the past three years, creating 115 new jobs. (Figure 17)
Change in Jobs Infographic
Figure 17: Change in Workforce 2013-2016
Workforce Characteristics
On average, respondents rated the availability of workers as “fair to good,” a decline from the 2013 survey rating of “good to above average.” (Figure 18) Constant with 2013 results, businesses indicated both quality of and ability to retain employees, or sustainability, as “average to above average.”
Almost half of businesses (48%) surveyed reported recruitment and hiring difficulties. Frequent reasons cited were too few qualified workers, workers lacking needed skills or experience, and substandard work ethic.
Workforce Characteristics Infographic
Figure 18: Workforce Characteristics
Hiring Difficulty
Employers overwhelmingly (70%) perceived their hiring difficulties to be industry-specific, with the remaining employers attributing the difficulties to community-based factors.
As shown in Figure 19, perceived hiring difficulties are more pronounced in certain sectors, with 100% of respondents in the Professional Services and Healthcare sectors reporting hiring difficulties. At least half of respondents in each of the Building & Construction and Technology sectors reported difficulties. All sectors report at least some difficulty hiring.
Recruitment Response Infographic
Figure 19: Percentage of Respondents Reporting Hiring Difficulty by Sector
Employee Training
Additionally, while more than half of respondents reported difficulty hiring and retaining employees, the need for businesses to provide new or additional training to existing employees is increasing. An increasing need for additional employee training was reported by at least some in every sector, but the percentage of businesses reporting increasing need was considerable in the Healthcare (100%), Advanced Manufacturing (80%), and Technology (50%) sectors. (Figure 20)
Training Need Graphic
Figure 20: Training Need Status Reported by Sector and Percentage of Respondents
Essential Personnel
The age of essential personnel, and relative place in their professional life cycle, was assessed by asking businesses to report employee groups categorized by age into young (ages 18–35 years), middle-aged (ages 36–55), and nearing retirement (aged older than 55 years). (Figure 21) Results were near U.S. Census Bureau predictions that, by 2016, one-third of the total U.S. workforce would be age 50 or older (U.S. Census Bureau, 2010).
These results illustrate the critical mass of workers whose impending retirement will dramatically affect business productivity and profits and points to the need for developing strategies to bridge the approaching gap between experienced professionals leaving the workforce and having available, skilled workers entering the workforce to meet the employment needs of local businesses.
Age of Essential Personnel Graphic
Figure 21: Age of Essential Personnel in the Local Workforce
Age by Sector
In addition, Figure 22 highlights the ratio of middle and near-retirement aged workers more drastically outpacing young, new workers in the workforce in certain sectors, including Healthcare, Building and Construction, Manufacturing & Distribution, FIREL, and Professional Services.
Age by Sector Graph
Figure 22: Age of Essential Personnel by Sector