Gov. Pat McCrory said North Carolina manufacturers are struggling to find people to fill jobs even though the states unemployment rate is the nations sixth-highest.
McCrory made the comment Monday at a Gaston County luncheon attended by business and political leaders. It was the latest stop in a series of visits McCrory plans with business people across the state.
North Carolinas unemployment rate in August was 8.7 percent, the lowest its been all year. Georgia and the District of Columbia were tied for sixth place with North Carolina. The U.S. unemployment rate in August was 7.3 percent.
During the luncheon, at The String Bean restaurant in Belmont, Gaston County Commissioner Tracy Philbeck told the room that hes had a hard time finding qualified people to be tree climbers and chipper operators for his landscaping business.
After he spoke, Ron Pressley, president of real estate company Coldwell Banker Commercial MECA, said hes had trouble filling jobs, including ones in accounting and marketing, paying as much as $45,000 a year. The jobs even come with benefits, he said.
Its taken us nine months to fill two of them, he said.
W.P. Bill Carstarphen, president of Pharr Yarns, which McCrory visited Monday, told the Observer that he cant find workers for high-tech equipment he bought during the recent recession.
His company makes, among other things, specialty fibers used for protective gear for firefighters and the military. He said he has four plants in Gaston County, where he employs about 1,000.
In July, Gaston Countys unemployment rate was 10 percent.
Carstarphen said he has a couple a dozen openings for people to run the machinery.
We have a hard time hiring people, he said. The younger generation really need to understand not everybody needs to go to a four-year, liberal arts college, that going to the community college to learn a vocation is going to be important to us as manufacturers.
Dialogue with employers urged
McCrory said hed like to see teachers and principals going to employers to find out what skills they need students to have. He said hed also like to see employers visiting schools to see some of the challenges of the teachers.
McCrory told the business leaders he agrees with teachers who complain about having to give too many standardized tests.
We need to get teachers to not teach by test, but teach what the students need to learn to get a job and to get that critical thinking, he said.
Roberts: 704-358-5248; Twitter: @DeonERoberts
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