The “Great Resignation” has seen record numbers of workers leave their jobs. Now, employers in several key industries are getting creative to fill unusually high numbers of job openings, while workers seeking new jobs are increasingly seeking out training and other tools that can help them put their best foot forward.
“The job market is really strong right now,” said Angela Johnston, Director of Business Solutions and Partnerships at Bristol Community College. “I think folks are really trying to brush up their personal branding so they can apply for some of these well-paying jobs that are out there.”
Bristol is currently offering a series of free online webinars focused on professional skills like resume building, interviewing techniques and using social media to build a personal brand, along with technical skills like using Microsoft Office and professional writing.
Johnston said they first ran the webinars in 2020, as the pandemic shuttered businesses and forced many workplaces to go remote. More than 400 people signed up for the first group of sessions, proving the demand for training that could help job seekers be competitive candidates, she said. The current sessions each have about 30 or 40 people signed up.
During the current series of webinars, the ones focused on basic skills like writing a resume and cover letter are the most popular, Johnston said.
“There’s just so many jobs in the market right now, so people needed to update their resumes and brush up on some of their other skills,” she said.
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But, job seekers and current employees have also taken advantage of “upskilling” sessions, especially ones focused on tools like using Microsoft Teams. The switch to a remote workplace has meant new skills are needed, especially for smaller companies and non-profits that likely didn’t use much remote technology before the pandemic. Job seekers are also learning how to perform in interviews that are held over Zoom or another video chat software, with many workplaces still fully or partially remote.
The free, non-credit webinars are open to anyone, including people who are not students at the college.
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“If there are professional skills that they are lacking, they can come to Bristol,” Johnston said.
Launching a career in a new field
Tom Perreira, director of the MassHire Bristol Workforce Board, which focuses on professional development, said his organization has seen a noticeable uptick in clients looking to launch new careers.
“We have seen increased demand for workers,” he said. “That has afforded individuals an opportunity to look at careers they haven’t considered before.”
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While the construction trades have used an apprenticeship system for a long time, some new industries, like manufacturing, that previously did not use apprenticeship programs have newly adopted the practice as a way to rapidly expand their pool of reliable, trained workers, Perreira said. The Bristol Workforce Board has also seen more companies avail themselves of training programs that can help current entry-level employees fill open positions that are higher up on the ladder, he said.
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The manufacturing and healthcare industries are seeing perhaps the largest workforce shortages, Perreira said. In manufacturing, computer numerical control (CNC) machinists, workers who operate computerized factory tools and machinery, are especially in demand right now. The healthcare field consistently has a need for nurses, which the pandemic has only exacerbated, while the field of behavioral health is also seeing a surge in job openings, he said.
His organization is seeing many people who are interested in a career in healthcare seek out jobs as medical assistants as a way to get into the industry.
“There is big a demand out there and people are trying to meet that demand,” he said. “There’s definitely a lot of opportunity.”
Audrey Cooney can be reached at [email protected]. Support local journalism by purchasing a digital or print subscription to The Herald News today.