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Advice To Houston Employers: Embrace New Technology To Attract Gen Z Workforce

We spoke with John Romanow of staffing company Kelly Services about the latest jobs report for Houston.

John Romanow is the market leader for the South Central United States at staffing company Kelly Services.

The latest state and local jobs report that came out last Friday paints a positive picture for our economy — unemployment is down in both Houston and Texas.

We spoke with John Romanow, market leader for the South Central region for staffing company Kelly Services, about what this means for businesses and job seekers in Houston.

Florian Martin: One maybe concerning fact about the last jobs report is that hiring in Houston was dead flat in August (month-to-month) – for the first time in decades. What do you make of that?

John Romanow: Right. But the job growth in Houston, or the job market in Houston is still historically high. So while we have (zero) net job growth from month to month, it’s still a very, very strong job market. We still have 1.2 openings for every available employee that we have.

FM: When we look at the unemployment rate, like the rest of the state and the country, in Houston unemployment continues to trend downward – it was 3.9% in August. What does that mean for both employers and job seekers?

JR: Well, for job seekers it means that now is a great time to find the perfect fit for your job and to get your skill sets into a perfect career so that you can develop your career. It also means that employers need to be a little more specific in how they go and find that talent in the job market. So as opposed to finding a generic job description that they may have depended on for years, they need to look at the specific skills that are needed for that job and focus in on the job market, and search out and either find those skills or find someone with the soft skills to complete that job and then train them on the technical aspects.

FM: We have a lot of Generation Z people entering the job market now. What can you tell employers about this generation in terms of how they should attract this workforce?

JR: To embrace the technology that they are used to using and that they want to use. And they’ll find it valuable when they get into the workforce. So the Generation Z employees are very productive but you do have to have a flexible work environment and you do have to compete for that talent. So they can be very selective. They tend to be more free agents. They look at their skill sets as more of a portable career as opposed to being with one company for 10, 15 years as past generations have done. So what they want to build is a successful series of gigs and they want to move that skill set that they have from company to company and build on success that way.

FM: When we look at the Houston market, which industries are right now looking for the most workers, which have a shortage of workers and which ones are pretty much saturated?

JR: Healthcare, education, government, construction have the biggest shortages. There’s also some big shortages for seasonal workers in distribution and manufacturing. So there’s lots of opportunities for employees that need a four-month, five-month assignment and they can find that pretty readily in the Houston market now.

FM: Something that comes up when we talk about the economy and jobs is immigration and how currently there’s a pretty tough stance on immigration. Does that affect the available workforce in Houston a lot?

JR: I wouldn’t see it as affecting it a lot. I think America needs to be open as to where it’s finding its talent and embrace immigrants coming in that have that talent.

FM: What do you expect for the rest of the year in terms of hiring and wages?

JR: Wages, you’re going to see wages always creeping up when the market gets tighter, so when there’s less available employees it’s more competitive and you need to compete with wages and also a positive work environment. But I think we’ll see wages creeping up for the remainder of the year.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

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Florian Martin

Florian Martin

Business Reporter

Florian Martin is currently the News 88.7 business reporter. Florian’s stories can frequently be heard on other public radio stations throughout Texas and on NPR nationwide. Some of them have earned him awards from Texas AP Broadcasters, the Houston Press Club, National Association of Real Estate Editors, and Public Radio...

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