Local businesses to fill retirees' jobs

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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- Local businesses are struggling to fill retirees’ jobs.

The youngest of the Baby Boom generation is getting closer to being eligible for retirement.

70% of businesses from the Chippewa Valley report struggles finding workers to fill positions; that’s according to a new study conducted by the Eau Claire Area Economic Development Corporation.

According to the 2015 Skills Gap Local Labor Market Survey, Chippewa Valley businesses are concerned about the mass baby boom retirement. The survey conducted includes 105 companies from the Chippewa Valley. Scott Hodek, an economist in Eau Claire, says as the baby boomers get older, younger, less experienced workers will have to fill those positions.

“As they age out of the labor force, we’re finding that it’s harder and harder to even just find entry level workers,” Hodek said. “It’s both a skills gap problem and starting to have a warm body problem as well.”

During and right after the recession, Hodek says there weren’t a lot of retirees because they weren’t in the right position financially; that’s a big reason this job labor gap.

“They were sort of rebuilding their finances,” Hodek said. “What would’ve been more of a gradual decline in their participation rates was a little steeper.”

Hodek says 57% of the positions from retirees, of the businesses that responded, required 2-5 years of experience.

Bob McCoy, with the Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce, says it’s not a simple fix, but there are ways to get qualified.

“I think what it is, is the jobs need the skillset and you can’t just get a job because it opens up,” McCoy said. “Some companies are willing to work with people and train people to get good, skilled people who will first, show up for work, and secondly, pass a drug test.”

Some of the areas where the jobs are needed locally are manufacturing: whether it be welding, engineering or machining. The nursing field when it comes to nurses, CNAs, medical assistants. And electric work and construction.

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