CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) – With more people getting vaccinated, some employers here say normal is returning, with higher demand for products and services increasing, but the problem is many places still can’t find enough workers to fill vacant spots and keep up with demand.
During the pandemic, businesses went down sharply at ACP in Cedar Rapids, but now the orders are coming back.
“COVID hit which set us back a little bit because we do make equipment for restaurants, but then our business popped back way quicker than we thought, with a lot of the chains that you drive up and take out,” said Human Resources Director Kimberly Port.
ACP makes high-speed cooking equipment for restaurants and other food service. Before the pandemic, they manufactured about 200 commercial ovens a day. Now demand is coming back, but they just don’t have the staff.
“It is concerning. We have orders to fill for customers and we’re behind,” Port said.
Right now, they have 10 openings between assembly, welding and fabrication positions. They’ve turned to recruitment companies, like Express Employment Professionals to help. But, even they are not untouched by these challenges.
“We currently have about 180 open positions in the Cedar Rapids, and Iowa city area, and that number changes drastically every day,” said Jon Oswood, Owner at Express Employment Professionals.
On average, Oswood says they have up to 200 openings a day to fill mostly, within the manufacturing industry.
“We’re back to pre-pandemic levels of unemployment in the area so we’re kind of back in the same struggle,” said Oswood. “I don’t know exactly the reason. I know that daycare issues is a big contributor to the reason why people are having a hard time working.”
That’s why they are trying to work with these companies on adjusting work hours and shift options for potential hires as part of their efforts.
“We’re kind of back to the basics for trying to hit some of the high schools, and some of the local colleges looking for people who are wanting to do summer jobs,” said Oswood.
Part of the incentives are signing bonuses and even attendance bonuses. Port says ACP revamped their whole compensation package.
”So we actually are starting assembly folks out at $17 an hour,” Port said.
That along with advertising, social media, and the warmer weather, she and Oswood are hopeful to see more applications coming in.
“They are just in a desperate need for employees,” said Oswood.
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