NEW JERSEY -- It’s a New Year and like the millions of other Americans, you may have resolved to eat healthier and improve exercising habits. Finding a new job also often ranks high on the "to do" list.

In fact, according to a new Career Builder survey, more than one-in-five workers (22 percent) are planning to change jobs in 2017. Further, that number is even higher for Millennials (18-34 years old) as over one-third (35 percent) of workers in this age demographic expect to leave their job this year.

Those that have prioritized finding a new job this year are in luck. Nationwide, there are currently more job openings for skilled positions than there are job seekers, and the national unemployment rate sits at a nine-year low of 4.6 percent. Economists consider this to be full employment. This has effectively created a “Talent Crunch” that is frustrating employers.

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Meanwhile, those who are unemployed likely are redoubling their efforts to get hired now that the holidays are over. Fortunately for New Jersey residents, there are many state-backed labor and development initiatives to help unemployed candidates get back to work. The timing and conditions for a candidate to get back into the workforce couldn’t be better. 

The Opportunity4Jersey (O4J) Training Grant program is designed for eligible training providers to train qualified unemployed workers in occupational skills in demand, which connect to immediate job openings with partnering businesses. The program covers professionals in the following targeted industry sectors:

  • Advanced Manufacturing;
  • Financial Services;
  • Health Care;
  • Life Sciences (Pharmaceuticals, Biotechnology, Medical Devices);
  • Retail, Hospitality and Tourism;
  • Technology and Entrepreneurship; and
  • Transportation, Logistics and Distribution.

New Jersey’s Department of Labor and Workforce Development offers several other programs including:

Because the job market is so tight, many employers have wisely implemented training programs to hire job seekers who “can do” and are motivated to do but lack the specific job-related experience. Wedgewood Pharmacy, one of the largest compounding pharmacies in America, located in Swedesboro, NJ, has done exactly that. The company offers many opportunities for job seekers who are interested in working as a pharmacy technician.

Pharmacy technicians are among the most difficult positions to fill in this country. Wedgewood leveraged the services of my firm, The WorkPlace Group, a leading think tank provider of talent acquisition and recruitment process outsourcing (RPO) solutions, to help the company recruit, screen and hire candidates who have the right competencies to be successful pharmacy techs.

We studied Wedgewood’s pharmacy operations and developed competency profiles to identify candidates who had high probability of being successful pharmacy techs. In contrast to staffing firms that serve as agents and brokers to job seekers, RPOs represent the employer, just like an in-house corporate recruiter does. 

Those with specialized skill sets — particularly in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) — are benefiting most during the current "talent crunch."  It’s not just experienced job seekers who are benefiting. Many manufacturing and production companies across the U.S. also are having a hard time finding machinists and tool and die markers. These are high paying jobs that are often hard to fill because there is a stigma about attending vocational or trade school.

There are strong indicators that 2017 will turn out to be a great year for both companies and workers. For those who have been thinking about getting back to work or have been actively pursuing a new job, 2017 will be known as the year for the job candidate.

A frequently quoted expert on recruiting and hiring trends, Dr. Steven Lindner is the executive partner of Florham Park, NJ-based The WorkPlace Group, the leading "think-tank" provider of talent acquisition and recruitment process outsourcing services helping employers find, screen, assess and onboard best talent. Providing recruitment process outsourcing services to employers for two decades, The WorkPlace Group, has experience working through many talent crises such as the Y2K phenomenon in which companies sought to attract top technology talent to The Great Recession.