Employers face new challenge in filling job vacancies

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Posted at 10:18 PM, Jul 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-08 09:36:56-04

HENDERSONVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — The state says there are thousands of jobs available and many businesses are struggling to fill those vacancies.

Employers say staffing is now one of their biggest challenges.

Gov. Bill Lee says there are about 250,000 jobs available in the state. This being one reason he ended the federal pandemic unemployment benefits in the state.

The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development is cracking down on people who claim unemployment benefits but refuse offers for suitable work.

If employers have an employee who refuses to return to work, and the employee does not meet specific COVID-related exemptions, the employer can notify the department.

Tennessee law requires unemployment claimants to accept suitable work when offered by an employer or risk disqualification from the unemployment benefits program.

"They're here and we desperately need them all of us," said Debra Wendorf with On Demand Visionary Workspaces.

Many of the local businesses have expressed concern with the need to find and retain good employees.

The Hendersonville Area Chamber of Commerce held a job fair on Wednesday. Close to 30 employers were represented at Union University looking to hire employees.

"We're a growing brand that's growing every single day," said Travis Laha, marketing director for Taziki's Mediterranean Cafe.

The restaurant was of several businesses at the job fair looking for applicants.

"Last year was a tough year for sure but we rebounded so much that we are now beating our sales from 2019," Laha said.

This is good news for Taziki's Mediterranean Cafe.

"Things are coming back really strong, really fast," he said.

But one thing that isn't coming back from the pandemic as strong as ever are the workers.

"Those are the people that make it happen every day, so we got to get those people in the door," said Laha.

Whether it's the restaurant business, retail, construction, or law enforcement, employers say they're hiring.

"For some reason, it’s really hard to recruit people into public safety today," said Jerry Scott, jail administrator for Sumner County.

Scott says they need patrol officers, correction officers and correctional officers.

"We have clerical division, we are record keepers, we have NCIC operators, radio operators," Scott said.

If an employer notifies the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development an applicant who is receiving unemployment did not accept a job offer, the agency will investigate the allegation.

TDLWD requires the employer to provide the name of the claimant, the job title refused, the job’s pay rate and the required job duties