Help wanted. Now hiring. Accepting applications.
These messages can be seen on signs in front of several businesses throughout Woodward,
And they appear to be signs of success.
Although the signs point out that many local businesses are struggling to find qualified workers, they also point to the fact that Woodward’s economy is strong and flourishing.
“Our economy is good right now; our unemployment rate speaks to that,” said Karla Pummel, center manager of Woodward Workforce Oklahoma Career Center.
With an unemployment rate of 2.5 percent, Woodward County has one of the lowest rates in the state, well below the state average of 4 percent.
“That means a good number of people are working,” Pummel said.
But while this is a positive thing for those workers and for the city’s economy, it creates problems for employers.
“It makes it hard for employers to find workers,” Pummel said.
She said the career center, which lists job orders on its website, currently has over 70 jobs listed and has recently had over 100 jobs listed.
It seems that all types of businesses from a variety of sectors are experiencing the same employment struggles.
“I can’t say there is any one particular employer or field that is having more trouble than any other,” Pummel said.
However, Pummel suggested the success of the oil and gas industry may have caused problems for businesses in other industries.
“It’s hard for employers that don’t pay the kind of wages that the oilfield does to compete with that,” she said.
Several local employers agreed with Pummel.
“When they can go to the oilfield and make three times as much as they can in food, it’s kind of hard to compete,” said Tracy Wyatt, general manager of Arby’s.
Wyatt, who said she had been having problems finding workers for about six months, said she has tried everything to entice applicants from displaying a help wanted sign to placing ads in the paper to filing a job order with the employment agency.
“I just don’t know what to do,” she said.
However, Wyatt realizes that Arby’s is not the only place having trouble.
“A lot of places are in the same predicament,” she said.
Brent Hubbard, director of marketing for Woodward Regional Hospital, explained how even the hospital is running short on employees because of the booming oil and gas industry.
He said the hospital’s shortage in staff has a “direct correlation” to surges in the oilfield.
“Ninety percent of our employees are female,” Hubbard said.
But with a lot of families becoming involved in oil and gas, he said a lot of women can now afford to stay home.
However, there are also companies within the oil and gas industry struggling to find employees.
“We’re having trouble too,” said Cindy Porter, secretary for Falcon Wireline.
“It’s been very hard to find help,” she said.
But for everyone the real problem seems to be not just finding workers, but finding qualified workers.
Kathy Whenry, classified advertising manager for the Woodward News, said when placing help wanted ads a lot of employers have expressed frustration over the work pool.
“Some of the feedback we’re getting is that employers are frustrated because they can’t find good quality workers,” she said.
Although there are a lot of people trying to get into the oilfield because of the money, Porter said those people are not always qualified.
And those who are qualified are already working, she said.
“They’re all taken up,” said Porter. “The oilfield is busy, there is just not enough help since everybody already has a job.”
The hospital is also having trouble finding qualified workers, according to Sonya Williams, human resources director for the hospital.
“We have trouble finding qualified employees in housekeeping, dietary, and our business office,” she said.
She also said the hospital is short on nurses.
“But that’s a nationwide shortage,” she said. “We’re not the only hospital suffering.”
However, as Porter pointed out, the qualified workers seem to be already working, a fact supported by the low unemployment rate.
So for those companies with open positions, there is no one to apply.
“We don’t get applicants like we used to,” said Williams.
Pummel said it was the same story for the career center.
“We just don’t have as many applicants coming in looking for work,” she said.
And for those companies needing those applicants to come in, things can get a bit stressful.
“It puts a lot of stress on local businesses and their employees when short on staff,” said Hubbard.
“The people we do have are having to work extra hours and longer hours to cover the volume of work,” Wyatt said.
“It’s hard on morale,” she said. “But we do what we have to do.”
Help wanted. Now hiring. Accepting applications.
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