Job prospects are mixed for unemployed in Rutland

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(Host) December is a tough time to lose your job. Just ask the 210 employees at Metrogroup – a direct mail company that will be closing its doors in Rutland next month. As VPR’s Nina Keck reports, the job prospects for many of them are mixed.

(Keck) Larry Sudlow is regional manager for the Department of labor in Rutland. He believes most of the people at Metrogroup will be able to find new jobs.

(Sudlow)"I’m a little more optimistic than some other people. We’ve got several companies that are really growing and trying to hire people and fortunately, I think they’ll be able to take advantage of hiring some of some of these layoffs."

(Keck) But Karin McGrath, head of human resources at Carris Reels, a local manufacturer that employs about 180 workers in Rutland, isn’t so sure. She says she met many of the MetroGroup workers at a recent job fair and sympathizes with their situation.

(McGrath) "I would have loved to have hired all of them. Unfortunately we only had a few positions open. And I just think they are going to have a hard time finding jobs – especially at a comparable pay level and benefit wise."

(Keck) Sudlow agrees that employees who’ve been working at Metrogroup for many years may have trouble earning as much per hour elsewhere. But he says good workers are in demand throughout the region.

(Sudlow) "Basic workplace skills are what people are crying out for. The ability to communicate well – good customer service skills – good problem solving skills. Give us people who can work and show up on time, and we’ll teach them the job skills."

(Keck) Finding skilled workers has been a challenge for many employers in the state.

(Sudlow) "There’s a lot of concern about the graying of the workforce – employees retiring soon and taking their good skills with them and employers not being able to find replacements for them."

(Keck) To help address that, Sudlow says the legislature created a new 12 million dollar fund for workforce development called Act 46.

(Sudlow) "There is now a pot of money that the state has created to help employers train workforce skills… We’ve got money for tech centers and high schools to do some programs, to prepare young people for the workforce. We’ve got internship dollars to help people try out jobs and help companies try out people to see if they’re a good fit."

(Keck) The money became available July first so it’s a bit early to assess results on a large scale.

Karin McGrath of Carris Reels says the money was sorely needed. She says they’ve already had several employees go through training programs made possible with the funds. She says the fact that the money is there to help job growth is good news for employers and workers alike.

For VPR news, I’m Nina Keck in Rutland.

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