Many small businesses in New Jersey have the "Help Wanted" sign out. But some say
they just are not getting enough of the kind of qualified people they are seeking.

New Jersey Business and Industry Association President Michelle Siekerka says many of their members have two hiring problems.

"The future workforce may lack employability skills, which are those 'soft skills' like communicating well, showing up on time." Siekerka says some companies tell her they also have another problem with technical skills.

Reinforcing this is an American Express survey of small businesses nationwide that found that they are eager to hire but have trouble finding the right people.

Siekerka also cautioned about being "down" on the New Jersey workforce because the state "probably has the best labor pool in the nation when it comes to highly-skilled workers."

"But we do not have enough of them," she said.

She says the NJBIA is working with schools and academic institutions to better prepare the future workforce.

"When the students come out of a program, whether a four-year degree program, or a one-year certification program, they can walk right out and have the skills needed by our employers."

Another problem is that some 18 to 34-year-olds are leaving the state for greener pastures elsewhere, in large part because of the state's high cost of living.

Joe Cutter is the afternoon news anchor on New Jersey 101.5. Contact him at

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