Ages and Wages Affect Idaho’s Future Workforce Capacity

This is the first of a two-part article, providing an overall view of worker ages across the state by industry sector.

The aging of Idaho’s workforce indicates future labor shortages in manufacturing, transportation and warehousing, utilities and government sectors.

Possibly most noticeable is the potential future of a worker shortage in educational services , which is key to providing essential education and training to propel individuals into higher-skilled, better paying jobs.

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Labor Programs Help Youth Looking for Work

The Idaho Department of Labor has many youth services available to help young people who are starting to think about their future and where they want to work.

It’s not too late to go after the summer job you want, and people in your local Department of Labor office can be a big help. They’ll show you how to put a good resume together, even if you don’t have much or any past work experience. Since they work with employers every day, they know what the people who do the hiring look for in an applicant, and they know that things like dressing for interviews and being on time can be just as important as anything you say during an interview. Call the office, ask for an appointment with a workforce consultant and take advantage of her expertise.

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Overlooked Strategies for Job Seekers: The Informational Interview

Informational interviews are a valuable tool in conducting a job search, especially when you are either starting or changing careers. They allow you an inside view of a company, a job and a specific industry that is hard to get any other way.

First, an informational interview is specifically NOT a job interview. It involves talking with people who are currently working in the field so you can build a network of contacts and gain an understanding of a particular industry or occupation.

Your target for the interview is someone who is currently doing the kind of job you are seeking, not the manager of Human Resources (unless of course, you are seeking a job in Human Resources). The purpose of this interview is to:

  • Clarify your career goals.
  • Create and expand your network of contacts in the field –  gain visibility.
  • Get some great practice in interviewing.
  • Identify your own strengths and weaknesses.

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Tourism’s Role Differs Across State

Tourism is a major industry in the United States, and Idaho is no exception. According to the Idaho Department of Commerce from the U.S. Travel Association, Idaho’s tourism industry is a $3.4 billion job-creating engine.

A report produced by the Idaho Department of Commerce found tourist spending totaled $1.77 billion in 2010 statewide. But gross sales receipts indicate that tourism-related spending is not spread evenly throughout the state. Seven counties claimed 74 percent of that spending. Ada County alone takes in 33 percent.

Top Seven Idaho Counties

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Employers Value Soft Skills

Employers have been reporting a decline in the overall level of soft job skills in the state’s workforce, particularly among those in their teens and 20s. The Idaho Department of Labor office recently held a seminar on soft skills at its Pocatello office in response.

“The goal was for those currently working and job seekers to gain a better understanding of what soft skills are and what they could do to improve their own marketability,” workforce consultant Beth Larson said.

Often referred to as an employee’s work ethic, soft skills refer to a cluster of personal qualities, habits, attitudes and social graces that make someone a good employee and compatible to work with according to Kate Lorenz of careerbuilder.com.

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Idaho’s Construction Industry Slowly Recovering

At the peak of the housing boom in 2007, construction jobs hit 53,250 statewide with an annual payroll just under $2 billion. In 2014, the sector had barely 35,000 jobs that paid $1.37 billion.

Construction has historically been strongest in southwestern Idaho – the state’s population center. Ada and Canyon counties account for almost 40 percent of the state’s population. The remaining eight counties add another 6 percent to bring total population of the region to over 737,000. From 2013 to 2014, the number of construction jobs increased just over 1,100 in the region, where almost half the state’s construction jobs are, while northern Idaho’s five counties – anchored by Kootenai County – posted the second largest increase at nearly 450.

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Idaho Private Postsecondary Schools Show Significant Job Growth

Between 2004 and 2014 private educational services grew significantly in Idaho. During that decade educational services added more than 2,200 jobs – an increase of 54 percent.

The sector includes both profit and nonprofit businesses that provide education and training – private elementary and high schools, colleges, professional schools, automobile driving schools, tutoring businesses and fine arts academies. Public, government-operated educational institutions are not included.

Private colleges, universities and professional schools in Idaho saw employment jump 270 percent – nearly 800 – between 2004 and 2014. This represented the bulk of the sector’s growth and compared to just 23 percent growth nationally.

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