Worker Shortages in Some Fields Amid Layoffs

By: Tony Tagliavia
By: Tony Tagliavia

Layoffs, particularly in the manufacturing sector, have been piling up in Mid-Michigan. But employers are actually looking for workers in some fields.

With all those layoffs in the news, you might expect job fair attendees to come without a job. But Qunika Parker has one.

"I work for a GM supplier. I'm looking for something with more security," Parker said.

Like many at the Michigan Works Spring Jobs Expo, Parker has her eyes set on what she sees as more stable employment.

A spokeswoman for fair organizer Michigan Works says those fields aren't just more stable; they're actually generating more and more jobs.

"Absolutely anything healthcare is growing right now, from home health aides on up to registered nurses," spokeswoman Kate Tykocki said.

So, the first stop for Parker is Memorial Healthcare.

But what about those workers recently laid off from GM, TRW or Federal Mogul? One problem: These high growth fields often require highly specific training.

"We're looking for people with clinical skills," Memorial Healthcare representative Maggie Quinn said.

And while some lack the skills needed to snag a job in the burgeoning healthcare sector, others find themselves overqualified for what's out there.

"I'm looking for something more upper management," job-seeker Loren Bertram said.

Still there are some mid-Michigan firms with diverse employment offerings. Lansing biotechnology firm Neogen is one example.

"We have positions that require science degrees and we have positions that require high school diplomas," Neogen Human Resources Director Stephanie Bowling said.

The openings were enough to attract recently-downsized purchasing worker Ken Coombs.

"They have a couple of positions in the fields I'm looking for."

Like Coombs, most we spoke with came away from the fair with a reasonably optimistic outlook. But they are keeping things in perspective.

"I could find the dream job or I could find a stepping stone to get to that dream job," Parker said.

There were a few more employers than usual at the twice yearly Michigan Works event. Roughly 2,000 job-seekers made it to the expo. That figure is about average, according to organizers.

The next job fair is coming up this fall.


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