NJ Employers Finding It Tough to Fill Job Openings

Tom Johnson | August 8, 2012 | Energy & Environment
OnRamp, a new Internet job site, matches skilled employees to interested employers -- and there's no fee

Even in a state where the unemployment rate hovers above 9 percent, many employers in New Jersey are finding a difficult time finding the right person to fill a job opening.

Take PSEG, for example, one of the state’s biggest employers, with more than 10,000 workers. When the owner of the state’s largest utility, Public Service Electric & Gas, tracked down how many openings it had, it found it needed to fill 111 positions.

“These are really good jobs,’’ said Ralph Izzo, president and CEO of PSEG, ranging from lawyers, accountants, energy traders, and engineers to skilled craft positions, like auto mechanics, electricians, and pipefitters.

Hoping to answer the company’s needs and that of thousands of other businesses small and large, the state is rolling out a new online tool to match up talented workers with needy employers.

The features that set apart OnRamp from other Internet job-listing sites include the fact that it is part of the state-owned Jobs4Jersey.com, where all services are free.

OnRamp also uses state-of-the-art technology, according to officials from the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce, which developed the tool, allowing employees to conduct a talent search by listing specific skills, not merely job titles.

The site now has more than 100,00 registered job seekers. It currently lists about 120,000 job openings in the state and up to 258,000 jobs within a 50-mile radius. About 10 percent of New Jerseyans work in neighboring states, according to state officials.

The rolling out of the job search site comes at a time when the Christie administration is under criticism for the number of jobless in New Jersey. In June, the state’s unemployment rate climbed to a two-year high, jumping from 9.2 percent to 9.6 percent. In comparison, the nation’s unemployment rate in June was 8.2 percent.

In a press conference in the PSEG headquarters in Newark, Christie administration officials defended its job creation program.

“This state-of-the-art software will match skill sets with employer needs,’’ said Lieutenant Gov. Kim Guadagno. Other officials noted that the state has created nearly 25,000 jobs in just the past two months.

“With 90 percent of New Jersey’s employers being small businesses, OnRamp can perform the type of employee searches that businesses have neither the time nor the money to handle,’’ said Department of Labor and Workforce Development Commissioner Harold Wirths. “It acts like a human resources services.’’