Members of the SJC Long Island community took part in the 2021 Long Island Smart Growth Summit this month, sharing potential strategies and solutions for combatting the labor shortage with local business owners.
Gail C. Lamberta, Ph.D., associate dean for community development, professor and chair of the Recreation and Leisure Studies Department and coordinator of experiential learning discussed the local labor shortage during the virtual panel discussion, together with Kate Schneider ’99, who holds a therapeutic recreation degree from SJC Long Island and oversees recreation programming for the memory care units at The Bristal Assisted Living facilities.
The labor shortage experienced on Long Island is part of a ripple effect impacting the whole country. In August 2021, the rate of “nonfarm quits” increased 0.2 percentage point to 2.9 percent — the highest percentage since the Bureau of Labor Statistics began tracking it in 2000.
Working Together to Improve the Labor Shortage
Many of the panelists — including Dr. Lamberta and Schneider — suggested the labor shortage is due to an array of systemic issues that includes people retiring early, difficulties finding child care, employees demanding higher salaries and pushback from return to office mandates.
“People got used to living a certain way,” Dr. Lamberta said. “I think it was a wakeup call for a lot of people that all of a sudden they had leisure time that they never had. We went from running on the ‘treadmill of life,’ and running here, and running there, to stopping. And I think that had an impact on the workforce. People are resistant to going back to that ‘treadmill of life.'”
She added that the College aims to support the local workforce by preparing graduates with essential skills via concentration and certificate programs, experiential learning, career readiness workshops and more.
Schneider said Bristol Assisted Living is changing its recruitment strategies — and showing why her company is a great place to work — as a way to attract more job candidates during the shortage.
“We have longevity with our company, which is such a bonus,” Schneider said. “People who have been with the company stay a long time. We’re very blessed with that. But we’re trying to hire more staff and we’re finding that to be a challenge.”
Michael Tucker, president of the Long Island Food Council; Anne Fidje Davis, HR manager at H2M architects; Patrick Boyle, executive director of Ignite LI; and John Murray III, a Long Island restaurateur, joined Dr. Lamberta and Schneider on the panel.