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2022 March Cape Plymouth Business Page 02

Get The Word Out

From hospitals to restaurants, from small shops to landscapers, to the postal service, there’s not an industry today without job openings.

For the Cape & Islands, the labor shortage is nothing new, especially for a seasonal economy, but the problem was exacerbated with pandemic restrictions on foreign work visas, childcare challenges, low wages, people leaving the workplace for better opportunities or retiring, and the region’s chronic lack of affordable housing and rentals.

The Massachusetts Commission on Work filed its “Future of Work Report” in March. The findings hope to “highlight the needs of the future worker, articulate what strengths and weaknesses the Commonwealth possessed in relation to those needs, and provide a roadmap for giving our workers the tools and resources necessary for them to succeed over the next five to 10 years.”

Among those findings were:

  • Increasing workforce training;
  • Expanding English To Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) training;
  • Staying ahead of the technology, innovation curve;
  • Addressing issues such as childcare and transportation issues;
  • Ensuring equity and racial justice;
  • Ensure a supported transition to clean energy jobs.

Dale and Carol to Our Readers - Masthead


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CPBmay22 JoeYuknaMeet Joe Yukna – Executive Director

Cape Cod Military Museum

How did the idea for this museum come about?
I, along with Korean War veteran Jerry Ellis, are co-founders of the museum. I am a civilian, but worked as a Department of Defense Police Officer on Camp Edwards. When I was there most of the World War II buildings were still standing, many were in near ruins. I used to wonder what went on here. This curiosity led to a bit of knowledge and the information was the impetus for the founding of the museum. The Cape museum originally was going to be given two barracks and six acres on Camp Edwards, which was an open base at the time in August of 2001. Then Sept. 11 occurred and the base shut down public access. The museum does not have a building of its own…yet!

What do you do in the meantime?
We put on displays in various historical societies on the Cape, most importantly, the Bourne Historical Society. They have been an umbrella organization for us and graciously store some of our collection.

What are the future plans?
We have been working on getting a building of our own but the ANYTHINGBUTORDINARYcost of a site plan has been prohibitive. We got our 501C3 status a couple of years ago. We are all volunteers. We were putting on displays and I did informational historical photo lectures on some of the military activities and units that have ties to the Cape. COVID 19 put the kibosh on that activity for a few years, but may have opened the door for CCMM. We now hope to go into a vacant store in a shopping center. We recently have been offered a Vietnam era landing craft; the hope is to raise funds to purchase, restore, and at the 80th anniversary of D-Day, land re-enactors on a Cape beach.

What are some unknown facts/stories regarding Cape Cod and the U.S. military?
During World War II, Cape Cod was home for the Engineer Amphibious Training Command, amphibious tactics were experimented with and perfected so that units that trained here landed in North Africa, Sicily, Italy, France and over 75 combat landing in the Pacific Theater of Operations. Camp Edwards was headquarters to the Anti-Aircraft Artillery Training Command, over 42 AAA Battalions trained on Camp Edwards and various ranges all over the Cape.

What’s the best part of your job?
My favorite part of my volunteer job is educating the public on the wondrous happening that occurred on peaceful, quaint Cape Cod.

Do you have an interesting occupation or unique business? Contact carol@capeplymouthbusiness.com to be considered for this feature.


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May22 cover story

The signs are everywhere you go: “Help Wanted.”

No industry has been spared from the post-pandemic labor shortage and employers have had to get creative to attract candidates to fill year-round and seasonal positions. According to Bureau of Labor Statistics data, there are over 85,000 workers not participating in the labor market compared to pre-pandemic levels. Meanwhile, employers’ need for workers has continued to increase, with unfilled job postings up 20 percent compared to pre-pandemic levels and approximately 200,000 open jobs available across the Commonwealth.

“This summer has added challenges to employers, not only with seasonal but year-round hiring of staff,” confirms Marty Bruemmel, President/CEO of the Greater Hyannis Chamber of Commerce. “Besides finding employees, housing has become a critical element.

The cost of housing (if you can find housing) alone has just added another curveball to the post-pandemic world.”

Some good news for the Cape is the announced increase in H-2B visas to 35,000, added Bruemmel. “The added benefit of this is having those returning workers coming back with prior experience, thus reducing the time needed to train. But the key component to this is housing.”

The J-1 cultural exchange program, for example, brings students from abroad to work temporarily in the U.S., was severely curtailed during the pandemic.

“We are excited to announce a return of J-1program participant applications matching pre-pandemic numbers,” said Meave Treacy, Work & Travel USA Regional Manager at InterExchange.

“These past two summers were trying for host employers looking to hire for available positions that Americans were unable to fill. The participants’ imminent arrival to the area and their enthusiasm for the program this year is palpable and reflected in the number of exchange visitors participating this summer season.”

Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce’s Noelle Pina echoes Bruemmel’s concerns about the lack of housing impacting hiring.

“We’ve heard that as much as 20 percent of the foreign workforce don’t stay for the season as they can’t find a place to stay,” said Pina, who serves as Chief of Staff to chamber CEO Paul Niedzwiecki. “We strongly encourage our residents on Cape Cod who have room to consider telling their favorite restaurant or hotelier that they have an extra room to rent. That is a great way to help our economy and business community.”

The lack of early childhood education and childcare is another big reason why many who can work don’t, Pina adds. “Any investments made at the town level to fund early childhood education in direct payments to licensed providers or to take a larger leap and create their own programs will make a big difference in this tight labor market.”

Cape Cod Healthcare, the Cape’s largest employer with 4,900 employees, isn’t too far off from its pre-pandemic level (5,300) of employment, but needs still exist. Incentives and cooperative relationships with educational institutions are among the strategies CCHC is using to attract employees. Like many seasonal businesses, Cape Cod Healthcare also needs more staff to cover the medical needs created during summer, with the onslaught of visitors.

“We have 450 positions open currently, across the board,” said Michelle Skarbek, Vice President of Human Resources. “There was an existing nursing shortage prior to COVID, which has been exacerbated due to the pandemic and we also had some nurses who retired during the pandemic or moved on to pursue other opportunities.”

Cape Cod Healthcare includes hospitals in Hyannis and Falmouth, JML, Heritage at Falmouth, Visiting Nurse Association of Cape Cod, Medical Affiliates of Cape Cod and Lab Services. The company has had a relationship for years with agencies who recruit “traveling nurses,” but the lack of housing and housing costs continues to be a barrier for those nurses.

Incentives in place include an RN residency program throughCape Cod Community College, a phlebotomy program between the hospital workers’ union and Upper Cape Cod Regional Technical High School. All CCHC employees are eligible to receive up to a $3,000 bonus for referring a successful hire for priority positions, including RNs and LPNs. Cape Cod Healthcare also offers flexible working schedules, depending on the department, and a weekend program for RNs, where a nurse signs on to work 24 hours on the weekend, but is paid for 36 hours with full benefits.

The company posts job openings on Indeed, LinkedIn and Glassdoor and will be attending in-person job fairs again this year. Sign-on bonuses are another strategy.

“We offer outstanding benefits packages, flexible schedules and continue to enhance our offerings while adjusting to this new labor market,” says Skarbek.

Workforce shortage issues are unfortunately nothing new to human services providers, such as Road to Responsibility of Marshfield, which offers residential, work/employment, day habilitation and other day supports to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities throughout southern Massachusetts.

“The primary issue is money. Companies like Road To Responsibility can’t compete in this market without significant increases to the rates the state uses to purchase services,” says Christopher White, CEO. “Using one-time monies (primarily a PPP loan) we have increased our starting pay to $17/hr. and have added recruitment and retention bonuses of $2,500. However, our state contracts will only support an entry level wage from $15 to $16.79 an hour. While our efforts have helped to stabilize us, they haven’t significantly decreased the number of vacancies (we still have more than 27 percent of our positions vacant). This is happening across the field (children, mental health, developmental disabilities and elder services).”

The labor shortage has created opportunities for workers over 50 and retirees, an often overlooked group of workers.

Modern medicine and more mature people taking extra loving care of themselves, has allowed many, who are physically and mentally fit, to work way beyond the traditional retirement age of 65 years old,” says author and consultant Martha Fields (“The Okinawa in Me: Finally Finding My IKIGAI”). “This is great news as there are seasoned individuals who are still ready, willing, and able to work for you. There is a caveat. Many may not want the grind of a full-time job, but they may want to stay connected to the world of work as a 1099 consultant, seasonal worker, or part of a temporary pool that can be used to supplement your staffing as needed and allow them to still enjoy their retirement.”

Fields says some employers have become extremely creative by offering retirees an option to become part of an internal temporary worker pool. Individuals opting for that opportunity can be called in to do work on a project, per diem, or monthly retainer basis.

“Some organizations employing this tactic have discovered that some mature retirees have found that after a year or two of obtaining their retirement goals of playing golf daily, traveling to all of their dream vacation spots, they realize that they still don’t want full-time employment,” she adds. “Some, however, are craving some job-related mental stimulation and social interaction and are open to considering a consulting, part-time, or temporary gig.”

Fields suggests businesses find retirees who may want to work through outreach recruitment efforts at Senior Citizen Centers, assisted-living and retirement homes, and other social, civic, and religious organizations in communities that are frequented by mature individuals.

Another source for small businesses is the Massachusetts Small Business Development Center, which provides free, confidential, one-to-one business assistance and free or low-cost educational training programs to prospective and existing small businesses throughout the Commonwealth. Areas of assistance include: business plan development, preventure feasibility, cash flow analysis, personnel and organizational issues, conventional and non-conventional financing, marketing, international trade, SBIR and government procurement.

While echoing others’ lament about the regional housing shortage, MSBDC Senior Business Advisor and Regional Coordinator Clifford Robbins has some advice for employers.

“My advice to many of my clients is to seek employees from off Cape: New Bedford and Plymouth in particular,” Robbins suggests. “It’s only an hour (or less) away. But even then it’s a struggle. I have one client who closed his store because his $15/hour employees wouldn’t return [even] for $20/hour. So, I preach paying close attention to retention, lest they get into an even worse problem of not being able to meet the current customer’s needs.”

Recruiting, Hiring Tips

1. Focus on flexibility where you can
There’s no doubt that the pandemic has changed the way people think about work-life balance. Businesses that offer flexible work environments, such as the hybrid work model, are trendy right now. Businesses that aren’t compatible with hybrid work models can find other creative ways to offer flexibility: job sharing, rethinking work assignments, different hours, etc.

2. Incentives, benefits and perks
For various reasons, an increasing number of people are currently reluctant to return to or remain in the workforce, which means that businesses of all sizes are competing to offer the most enticing jobs to potential and current employees. Many companies boost wages or offer signing bonuses, but there are other less obvious strategies to incentivize employees to work for your business, such as:
· Performance bonuses
· Professional development opportunities
· Competitive benefits packages
· 401k matching and retirement plans
· Mental health, wellness and public health initiatives
· Meaningful trainings

3. Treasure hunt for top talent
To find and score top talent for your business, you likely lean on an HR specialist, either internally or your HR consultant. Right now is an excellent time for HR pros to hunt for talent outside of their usual spheres — and also where others in your industry may not be searching. Doing this might look like utilizing different technologies, but it could also mean re-evaluating job descriptions and qualifications. Can you adjust anywhere to bring in a fresh perspective or someone with transferable skills?

4. Consider your company’s culture
Creating a safe, welcoming and inclusive workplace culture is one of the top ways businesses can find, hire and keep employees. The younger generations in the workforce tend to work for businesses that most closely align with their values. There is an emphasis on diversity, equity and inclusion efforts across the board, as well as employee engagement efforts and perks that go beyond flex Fridays or happy hours.


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