Employee shortage continues; tens of thousands of vacant jobs across La.

La. Workforce Commission held another job fair on Wednesday
Published: Oct. 13, 2021 at 6:26 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Taurean Myles talked about his aspirations.

“I definitely want to do what I have to do to feed my family, leave a legacy,” said Myles.

He wants to be a professional truck driver and said the Job 1 Program in New Orleans is helping him prepare.

“It’s pretty much getting us ready for, I want to say the trucking-driving industry and stuff like that but basically on the road of how to really approach certain jobs and interviews,” Myles said.

Employers across the board need workers. And the Louisiana Workforce Commission held an online job fair on Wednesday. LWC says there are more than 31,000 jobs available statewide.

In New Orleans, Sunae Villavaso is Director of the Mayor’s Office of Workforce Development also known as Job 1.

“In New Orleans alone, they have over 1,600 jobs, vacancies available and it runs the gamut, it runs health care, IT, advanced manufacturing, and of course, our hospitality industry,” said Villavaso.

At Lakeside Mall in neighboring Jefferson Parish, shoppers strolled the shopping center, but many stores still have a shortage of workers.

Erin Graham is Lakeside Mall’s marketing director.

“Currently, we have a good amount of stores that are still hiring. We’ve hosted two job fairs in the last few months to try to help with that but there are over 30 stores right now that are currently hiring and with the holiday season coming up there’s a really big need for help here,” said Graham.

She said the shortage of workers pre-dates any holiday staffing needs.

“Before the holiday season, during the summer we started really looking, a huge push for people to come back to the mall to start working,” said Graham.

She said the mall also has held job fairs.

“Since COVID it’s been hard to get the people back to work especially at the mall and so we’ve tried to help our merchants as much as possible with the job fairs. There’s also a form online at our website at LakesideShopping.com so that people can fill out forms and then I pass that contact information on to the store managers,” said Graham.

Here is the link to the employment interest forms on the Lakeside Mall website: https://www.lakesideshopping.com/now-hiring

Villavaso says the pandemic has caused some people to rethink their work lives.

“One thing 18 months of COVID has done, working remotely, is you know people evaluated their quality of life and they realized they don’t want to be caught up in the rat race,” Villavaso stated.

And Villavaso said some people may believe they were being undervalued related to their salaries and decided, “it’s not worth going, you know, get, being exposed to COVID. Some people, too, have childcare and elderly care issues that still have to be remedied before they can go back into the workforce, so it runs the gamut.”

Graham thinks hundreds of workers are needed at the mall.

“I would say a few hundred employees definitely,” she said.

Because of the staffing shortages, Lakeside Mall is still operating with reduced hours.

“There is a hiring shortage and so we don’t want to stress our merchants out with trying to fill long hours during, you know, on the weekends and stuff, so yes that is the reason we have shortened hours but with the holiday season coming up we’re going to have to extend the hours so people can come and shop before and after work,” said Graham.

Job 1 is using incentives to get some employers to hire people they normally wouldn’t give a job to because they don’t meet all of the skill qualifications. “One of the incentives, employer incentives we have here with Job 1 is on-the-job training which means, and what we do with that is we pay up to 50% of their hourly wage for up to six months,” said Villavaso.

And she said the city recently had more resources for training prospective employees in the form of a Careers Grant from the Labor Department. “We just secured $2.9 million in the form of a careers grant from the Department of Labor. We’re looking to train up to 100 individuals in high-wage, high-demand industries,” Villavaso stated.

For more information on that training opportunity call (504) 658-4500.

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