Worker shortage hits area

Data from the Vermont Department of Labor shows that unemployment insurance claims have steadily declined throughout 2021.
However, in late August there had been a slight increase in claims. Jen Jones, the director of the Academic Support Center, General Manager of Sodexo at Castleton Rob Macfarlane, and John Rehlen, the owner of several businesses in Castleton including the Blue Cat Diner and Castleton Village Store, all took notice to this trend.
“I mean I don’t know what in general is causing the labor shortage in Rutland County, but I see it everywhere. I go to stores in Rutland and every single store I go to has a hiring now sign,” Jones said.
Macfarlane offered a similar take on the crisis.
“There are people who have learned how to live with less income. Others have found other employment. And then… there are some that have opted to continue receiving the insurance with the pandemic and we’re over a year into it,” he said.
And Rehlen, said it’s like nothing he’s ever seen.
“This is a nationwide phenomenon,” Rehlen said.
The three observed this in Castleton directly, with Jones in the Academic Support Center, Macfarlane in Huden Dining Hall on campus, and Rehlen with his businesses in town.
“We’re seeing 70%, maybe 80% less student employees in our businesses,” Rehlen said.
“We’re currently at about eight employees down from where we were this time in 2019,” Macfarlane said. “When I came on board in 2014, we didn’t have any trouble getting applicants. Where we are today… anybody that has applied, essentially, is getting hired right now,” he said.
Jones has struggled finding work study employees for the Academic Support Center.
“That’s definitely been a problem for all sorts of positions … that’s definitely been impacted by the labor shortage even though there are lots of students eligible for work study,” she said. “A year and a half of being remote for many students, they might be hesitant to take on too much as a transition back to normal. I wonder if they just want to focus on school and sports and not worry about work right now,” she said.
Macfarlane produced a solution of incentives to employees to help the unemployment problem at Huden, which helped them gain two employees. . The first day an employee brings somebody to work, they get an incentive, he said.
“For the semester, they get even more money as a little bonus right before the holidays,” he said.
All of the places mentioned are hiring students. On campus, Huden is hiring non-work study students, while the Academic Support Center is hiring work-study students.
“If anybody is strong in math or sciences that would be really great if they’re interested in tutoring,” said Jones.
Rehlen stressed his businesses are close, within walking distance of most students and said, “They’re great places to work at.”
But Macfarlane is being realistic about success in finding people.
“Every restaurant in Rutland County is looking for bodies so it’s gonna be a race,” he said.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Previous post Student poll: dogs vs. cats
Next post Alum distressed by name change