National Electrical Coil is ready to expand. They are looking for welders, technicians, general labor, and to add staff in its purchasing department.
“We’re hiring leaps and bounds,” said Maribel Bacca, a NEC manager, at a recent press conference to announce a jobs expo in Brownsville.
At SteelCoast, Ruben Vega talked of the 100 jobs he has open. The reclamation company and recycler of large metals at the Port of Brownsville is seeing challenges to fill those slots.
“We’re looking at creating new jobs,” said Vega, the human resources director at SteelCoast. “It has been very difficult to hire in recent months.”
The message seems to be the same across the board at companies large and small. The economy is opening up again and business is picking up. Now it’s a matter of hiring enough employees to gear up to meet those needs.
That’s easier said than done at the present time. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce reports that there are about half as many available workers for every open job across the country as there have been on average over the last 20 years.
A Nation-Wide Shortage
Axios recently reported there are a record 9.3 million open jobs in America.
Restaurants are actively seeking workers. They are advertising their needs on outdoor signs and at dining tables. Health care facilities are always in need of nurses and certified medical staff. Managers at those companies say they currently need all kinds of workers beyond medical ones. The chief operating officer at DHR Health, Aida Cornado-Garcia, recently said her company would be “hiring on the spot” at the Brownsville jobs expo.
Southwest Key Programs is offering signing bonuses at its Rio Grande Valley facilities as it looks to fill 400 jobs. The organization that operates shelters for unaccompanied immigrant minors was among the many employers at the recent jobs expo.
“The pandemic has impacted all industries … retailers, restaurants and supply chains,” said JJ Serano Jr., a Weslaco Economic Development Corporation board member. “As the economy reopens, employers are now experiencing not only normal business, but a stronger demand for products and services they provide.
“As consumers seek more goods and services and taste of normality, businesses are in need of the appropriate staffing levels to service them,” said Serrano, who has an extensive background in retail distribution, supply chains and logistics.
An economy that had been in something of a lull over the last year is now rushing toward opening up 100 percent. This is creating a bottleneck and a competition for workers.
Expo Seeks Helps Private Sector
The need to fill job openings across all economic sectors became so acute in Brownsville that city government and one of its economic development organizations decided to expedite efforts. It partnered with the private sector to host a Careers And Coffee career and jobs expo on June 28. It was billed as the largest career expo ever held in the Valley.
Helen Ramirez, the chief executive officer of the Greater Brownsville Incentives Corporation, said the goal of the expo was to fill 1,500 available jobs. She noted that while some industries have struggled over the last year, others grew their business, or supply a service or products that are much in demand coming out of the economic lull.
Serrano said an event like the expo can play an important role in accelerating the economic recovery coming out of the pandemic.
“Jobs expos such as this are what employers need to fill positions for current and future demands,” Serrano said. “The speed to fill these positions with the great quality applicants we have in our region will be a key component for a thriving economy.”
New Opportunities Arise
Ramirez said the range of workers that a large event like an expo attracts include the recent college or technical school graduate. Parents who stayed home since last spring to care for young children are also now looking to re-enter the workforce.
Employers are open to all types of applicants in looking at the scope of ready-to-hire jobs. Positions are available in the current local and regional economy. The Brownsville and Valley economy is resilient, Ramirez said, and now is a great time to seek new opportunities. She also hopes it’s a signal to those local residents who have left the area for job opportunities. They should consider returning, she said.
“Come home,” Ramirez said when asked what message a resurging local economy is sending out. “The perception of Brownsville doesn’t represent the opportunities that are here now. You have opportunities here and across the Valley in many different fields.”