Companies in rural counties having tougher time attracting workers for certain jobs

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RUSK COUNTY, Wis. (WEAU) -- "We've had a number of companies express concerns that some positions are difficult to fill," said Andy Albarado, Executive Director of Rusk County Development.

His job is keeping a pulse on the area economy and monitoring the latest trends in local employment.

He has been noticing a pattern in the northern part of the state.

"Recent census data shows we have seen people transition out of the area, rural northern counties have a loss in population especially during the recession," he said.

He says that has affected companies. Jobs once held by those retiring are not getting filled by the younger generation. And as for some new jobs, he says the labor pool is not deep enough so they need to go outside of the area to recruit.

He says we need to make sure communities are a desirable place to live and work for those moving for a job. He adds we need to make sure schools are doing enough to educate students and promote job opportunities to educate students and promote job opportunities in the community.

At Rusk County Memorial Hospital, they have been promoting rural medicine to the younger generation.

"We really get involved in high school, college level and even having residents and medical students come through here so they can understand what healthcare is like in a rural place," said Charisse Oland, CEO of Rusk County Memorial Hospital.

She says the hospital has a good record of retaining employees. The hardest part for them right now has been attracting doctors to live and work in a rural setting.

Brian Doudna, Executive Director of the Eau Claire Economic Development Corporation, has been looking at ways to help solve the employment gap.

One idea he says is to survey local employers, asking what jobs they are having trouble filling and what degrees candidates should have for the company to grow.

"Western Wisconsin is truly a unique labor market and we truly have to understand our local companies to make sure they have the talent pool," Doudna said.

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