On the very day that President Barack Obama was scheduled to deliver a speech about his latest job creation plan, the House of Representatives Small Business Committee heard small business owners and education and training experts address a very different problem: a lack of qualified employees.
The committee heard testimony from small business experts who say that small business owners in a variety of sectors are struggling to find employees who possess the knowledge and skill set to fill the job openings they have.
The committee hearing is in response to an ironic problem that BusinessNewsDaily has dubbed "the jobs gap ." According to anecdotal evidence and recent surveys, high unemployment rates do not reflect a lack of job opportunities in the United States, but rather a mismatch of employer needs with employee skills.
According to recent findings from the 2011 HireRight Employment Screening Benchmarking Report , 49 percent of respondents listed finding and retaining qualified employees as a top business challenge.
These results confirm the finding of a report called "The Talent Shortage Survey" by the Manpower Group which found that 52 percent of employers reported having a hard time finding qualified employees to fill jobs.
In August, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported on the problem in a recent article that confirms much of what small business owners have been saying: They can't find people who are willing to work for what they can pay and they can't find employees who have the skills they need.
The House Small Business Committee, headed by Chairman Sam Graves (R-Mo.), is called, "Innovative Approaches to Meeting the Workforce Needs of Small Businesses," and will be held today (Sept. 8) in Washington, D.C.
The hearing focused on small businesses' growing need for highly skilled and trained workers and how private, industry-led portable skills certification programs are helping meet these needs while improving career and educational prospects for students and workers, according to a press release from the committee.
The committee heard testimony from Jennifer McNelly, senior vice president of the Manufacturing Institute in Washington, D.C.; Roger Tadajewski, executive director of the National Coalition of Certification Centers in Kenosha, Wisc., Scott Watkins, CEO of Modern Tech Squad in Bonifay, Fla., and Robert Scott Ralls, president of the North Carolina Community College System from Raleigh, N.C.
The House Small Business Committee Chairman Graves said the solution to the problem lies in providing the proper training and education to a changing work force.
"The technological advancements of the last several decades mean that many of our small businesses now require a more highly skilled work force to compete," Graves said. "In recent years, private, industry-led portable skills certification programs have emerged as an effective way to train and educate our work force to meet these new demands. Small businesses are our best job creators and the cornerstone of our economy and if we want to create jobs, we must make sure our work force meets their needs. I look forward to learning more about these programs and how they can help put Americans back to work."