Companies aren't finding workers they need

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Thursday's rally on Wall Street came on new jobs numbers. They dropped the nationwide unemployment rate to 6.1 percent. But more than three million people are still looking for work.

Remarkably, an alarming number of Indiana companies complain, they can't find workers to fill empty jobs.

Hope Plumbing is a small Indianapolis business with a big problem - it can't find enough plumbers.

"For sure," Jack Hope said. "We could absolutely put two plumbers to work today."

But he can't find them.

"They are not knocking our doors down." he answered.

Marni Green needs help, too. She helps run a north side restaurant. The "Help Wanted" sign in the restaurant window isn't working.

"Somebody who says they can't find a job, I find it hard to believe," she said.

It is hard to believe.

A survey by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce found 40 percent of employers have job openings but can't find applicants with the proper skills.

Complaints come from companies of all sizes and a variety of industries, including manufacturing and skilled trades. Most jobs require training and education beyond high school, but less than a college degree.

Plumbers, for instance, need years of schooling.

"I can't tell you how many people who fundamentally no clue of what it takes to become a licensed plumber," Hope said with a voice of frustration.

Even low-skill jobs are hard to fill. The so-called soft skills - arriving on time to work every day and the ability to solve problems - are scarce.

"We just can't hire anybody who doesn't have good hygiene or doesn't know how to speak to the public," Green said.

Those are basic skills?

"Absolutely, absolutely." she answered.

It is absolutely surprising, more than half the companies surveyed say workers looking for work lack a work ethic. Yes, apparently, a work ethic has become a job skill. Employers also complain that too often applicants have all the qualifications, but fail their drug tests.

The majority of the companies surveyed plan to add workers this year and next year, assuming they can find them.