Eighteen months into the pandemic and employers are still struggling to hire staff. But the Department of Labor wants Vermonters to know there are resources and support available.
The Department’s Business Services Manager Cindy Robillard says she and her colleagues are working with businesses to help recruit employees. Despite the end to some unemployment benefits in October, Vermont continues to faces major workforce shortages across the state.
“We’re still in a very clear labor shortage state and employers are continuing to struggle to fill all their openings,” said Robillard.
One Burlington employer says staffing shortages have caused her and staff to do four times the amount of labor she had to do pre-Covid, especially since she operates both online and in-person sales.
“Not only requiring a lot more time and effort, but there’s not as many people to accomplish all the things you want to accomplish,” said Common Deer Co-owner Sarah Beal.
Before the pandemic, Beal’s store was opened seven days a week. When Covid hit, she remained closed throughout the holiday season until she could open back up in the spring 2021. Even then, she has had to reduce the number of days her store is open.
The same is true for another longtime establishment in the Queen City.
“We’re only open four days a week so it’s pretty intense stuff. I work 12 to13 hours on average a day,” said Aiden Pichette, general manager for El Gato Cantina in Burlington.
The Vermont Department of Labor recommends to businesses to remain as competitive as possible. This includes raising wages, offering flexible schedules, or sign-on bonuses to help recruit more staff.
The manager of Pho Son Vietnamese Street Food in downtown Burlington says the challenge is finding staff that is both available and experienced. And while he doesn’t mind training his applicants, they usually can’t meet his restaurant’s scheduling needs.
“From manufacturing to transportation obviously hospitality and tourism, those all really impacted by the current workforce shortage,” said Robillard.
Robillard encourages employers and job seekers to utilize Vermont Job Link, a website that lists job openings around the state.