With many local businesses suffering an employment gap, Flagler County’s Department of Economic Opportunity has teamed up with CareerSource Flagler Volusia to create a targeted radio and social media job-postings initiative to help fill it.
“There’s a workforce shortage nationally,” said Helga van Eckert, DEO executive director. “Locally, it matches what’s going on nationally.”
Van Eckert cited Flagler County’s current employment rate of under 4 percent as a reason for these unfilled job openings “despite a year-over-year workforce increase of more than 1,200 candidates.”
“The goal is to bring people in and up-skill them,” said van Eckert.
Marilyn Edwards, a CareerSource business service representative for Flagler, said three to five businesses reach out per week to be advertised over the radio in advertisements that run on Sundays and Mondays. They give CareerSource the titles of the positions they want filled and how many are available, each paying $12 hourly or more.
“I’ve been getting between 9 and 10 job seekers a week,” Edwards said.
Katrina Austin, DEO project manager, said they have to limit themselves to a pair of businesses to advertise each week, and that around 29 job seekers have been connected to eight employers so far.
People interested in the positions often come into one of CareerSource’s career centers — the Palm Coast office is located at 20 Airport Road, Suite E — to use their computers for resumes, which are forwarded to the companies seeking employees. Two companies, Edwards said, have hired more than three people already.
“They are getting interviews with these companies,” she said. All applicants have to do is remember the name of the desired position if they forgot the name of the company after hearing the commercial.
"We're definitely having an issue with skilled and unskilled workers," said Chelsea Barney Herbert, president and operations manager of 4C's Construction & Excavation. "Our industry is really starved for labor. We've had some recent applicants who've said they heard about the positions via the radio ads, about 10. We definitely appreciate it."
“We are excited to partner with the Flagler Department of Economic Opportunity on this collaborative initiative for our Flagler businesses,” said Robin King, president of CareerSource. “The awareness that this campaign has created is already producing great results.”
King said the program's test period was originally slated for six months.
"But based on the response we're getting," she said, "I think we'll definitely have to figure out how to continue running it."