Colorado employers struggle to find employers due to the state's skills gap

Colorado’s Next Governor Must Help Bridge the Skills Gap — with Better Schools

The skills gap. It’s a ubiquitous issue among Colorado employers.

As a CEO myself, I have yet to meet one of my peers whose number one challenge isn’t workforce development and the talent pipeline. In a state with around 3 percent unemployment, it can seem nearly impossible to recruit and retain employees. These challenges are even more daunting for a small manufacturer.

My family has owned and operated manufacturing businesses since 1951, and I intend for us to be around for the long-term, but I often feel my ability to grow and expand the number of jobs available in Colorado is hampered by my inability to find skilled workers. As I write this, we need to hire eight new team members in our factory just to keep up with strong demand for our industry-leading products.

I know many business leaders struggle with this, but lack the opportunity or capacity to explain our challenges in quick sound bites that will resonate with the gubernatorial candidates. I’m hopeful recent results from a survey of Colorado employers, as well as key takeaways about what can be done, will get Jared Polis and Walker Stapleton’s attention.

The results from a recent statewide employer survey — captured in a recently-launched Business Guide for Colorado’s Next Governor—shows the extent of the problem. Importantly, it also sheds light on what would happen if we closed the gap with the employer-backed solutions to do so.

The survey indicated that, overall, 77 percent of employers said that it has been difficult to hire Coloradans with the right skills for open positions. Specifically, some 77 percent of employers struggle to find workers with applied skills such as critical thinking and problem-solving. 65 percent said that job candidates lack workplace skills including teamwork and communication.

This piece originally appeared in Colorado Politics. Read the full piece here.

Taylor Merritt

Chairman and CEO
Merritt Aluminum Products Company