Service and labor industries are ready to hire for pay that can exceed professional jobs, but people to fill those roles are hard to find.

By Jeff Collins

Columbus is an undeniably thriving market. For many residents that have grown in the area and for those that have transplanted here, it certainly seems that the opportunities are endless-from industry meccas in fashion, retail and now e-commerce, to venues and restaurants available to meet any taste and budget. Columbus has evolved into a town that rivals the best and brightest metropolises across the country. With educational powerhouses in the proverbial backyard, applicants and job sourcing shouldn't be an issue-so why are business owners still struggling to find qualified entry-level, skilled or semi-skilled labor?

The Business Owner's Eclipse of Employment
For many owners and employers of small- and medium-sized businesses, the manpower outlook may seem to be a fairytale more than reality. The impact of seasonality and the election, coupled with new developments, new warehouses and new hubs opening in the area, is leaving many business owners and employers uncertain and anxious because of how this eclipse-like impact has manifested in a shortage of semi or unskilled applicants. What will the future look like for small and midsize businesses that can't fill positions now? A recent college graduate hired in at a Master's level degree is fortunate to earn a $25,000 a year salary, when a semi-skilled laborer can work as an electrical apprentice or mover for $35,000 or more annually.

With our culture and our educational system pushing towards degree-based employment and a workforce that is over-educated, in-debt and under paid, the jobs out there that can offer a decent living wage, and dare we say, less stress than a 9-to-5 administrative office position or a Master's degree mandate, are simply not desired. Plentifully available, just unpalatable.

Reaching the Masses and Exhausting any Means
Many local employers and business owners are indeed struggling to find applicants, using all of the means available to them. From online job boards to social media, networking, colleges and recruiting, and even poaching from competitors, yet it remains difficult to find individuals and sometimes even to garner a response.

In the service and trade industries particularly, there is an incorrect reputation that jobs are low-paying, and require low skill and low thoughtfulness. The truth couldn't be further from this. Admittedly, many wouldn't push for their son or daughter to become a mover, construction laborer, plumber or electrician. What if these positions paid more than the average entry level graduate is offered, included benefits and all of the bells and whistles that degree based employment can no longer provide?

Industry and the American Dream are alive and well in Columbus, but future growth and development depends largely on the ability to find individuals willing and able to fill the roles necessary to flourish. As consumers and as business owners, our thought process on those in the service and labor industries around us must devolve.

Jeff Collins is the owner of Columbus relocation companyMoving Ahead Services.