METRO DETROIT – Many industries across the country are reporting staffing shortages or an inability to fill vacancies in their workforce. Metro Detroit was no exception.
Bill Griffin, co-owner of Griffin’s Neighborhood Auto Clinic in Farmington Hills, said his business is one of many in the Detroit metro area struggling to maintain a full staff.
“We see a shortage. More for auto technicians than anything else,” he said. “It seems that each position requires a lot more to be filled than before. It has become common for people to not even respond to you for an interview. This forced us to think more about our hiring process. We are hiring companies and posting more and more vacancies etc.
The Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association conducted a survey showing that in 2021, 88% of hospitality industry respondents were operating with insufficient staff to meet consumer demand. This included 100% of banquet halls, 97% of hotels, 89% of full-service restaurants, 81% of quick-service restaurants, and 67% of bars and nightclubs. Although some staffing issues have become less severe as COVID-19 becomes less of a labor issue, the MRLA said all of these businesses are still reporting shortages.
The healthcare sector has also been hit hard, especially after being strained during the pandemic. Even Henry Ford Health System, one of Southeast Michigan’s largest job providers, says it’s still experiencing a staff shortage.
“Yes, we are definitely seeing staffing shortages,” said chief nursing officer Eric Wallis. “There are a few areas where we see particular shortages. There is a shortage of one million nurses across the country. We are also seeing shortages in some of our more technical areas. (Furthermore), we are seeing shortages in the post-COVID world in entry-level or support roles like housekeeping or food service.
Wallis said it’s not unusual for segments of a workforce as large as Henry Ford’s to experience personnel shortfalls, but these normally only affect one area. at a time; now it seems to be happening in virtually every business and staffing area.
“We tend to see these shortages in segments. We would surface those shortages in shifts where there might be nursing or housekeeping shortages,” he explained. “What’s different this time is that we’re seeing shortages in all of these areas at once. People often think of healthcare as a stable industry, which could shield us from most cyclical shortages, but this shortage is different.
Griffin said one of the factors for companies like his is that there isn’t a large enough pool of trained and qualified professionals.
“As far as my industry is concerned, the real big factor is that there aren’t enough people coming into tech these days, and those who are already techs have good, well-paying positions, because they’re so hard to replace. It’s a shrinking pool of available bodies,” he said.
This new labor shortage has caused many employers to change their hiring tactics.
“We talked about holding internal job fairs and posting ads in local spaces like churches and community centers,” Griffin said. “We’re using social media more to try to get more exposure.”
Wallis added that even large companies need to rethink how to attract talent and reach potential employees.
“COVID has changed the dynamics of the workforce. Henry Ford was one of the first health care systems to raise our minimum wage, which we are very proud of, but we have yet to respond to the changing status quo,” he said. “People are looking for new career paths or new aspects of jobs. How does transportation affect people’s availability? Are they looking for a job or are they looking for a career? How do they seek to integrate their work into their personal life? … The question is how to attract people to the labor market after things have changed so much for so many people.”
Wallis went on to say that many large companies need to take extra steps to ensure that, in a market where employers have to compete for talent, they make a job as attractive as possible.
“What’s really unique about this time in this region and in our market is that so many industries are experiencing the same issues and competing for the same talent. One challenge is to position yourself as the employer of choice.
Griffin hopes this will convince people, especially high school students preparing to enter the workforce, to consider paths they might not have thought of before.
“My message to people is to increase awareness of their local communities and the jobs there,” he said. “I also hope we can reach out more to high school students to explore careers in the trades. They are often well paid and very stable. We had a generation that didn’t go into business careers, and I think that’s really catching up with us now.