Wilmington staffing shortage hits community and public services hardest

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) – The City of Wilmington is working to address staffing shortages across the city, and as public safety applicants surge, the city’s greatest need right now relates to community and public service areas. Employees such as tree trimmers and other landscapers, parks and recreation departments, and people responsible for filling potholes and repairing sidewalks are the most vacant positions.

From the COVID-19 pandemic to the high number of baby boomers retiring, there are many reasons the city and nation’s businesses are struggling to recruit staff. But with technology and increased incentives, the city is working to close those gaps.

“Currently, today, we have 90 vacancies across the organization. Our turnover rate is 15%, which is the highest in the last five years. Half of our vacancies are in our public services and our community services, organizations, and these organizations do essential work for the community,” said Clayton Roberts, deputy director of human resources for the city.

While the private sector may offer a competitive salary, working for the city has a competitive pay scale and benefits that others do not offer. And for those who may not have experience, the city offers the opportunity for on-the-job training.

“It’s a great opportunity for people who have very limited experience to come and learn a new skill, we’ll train people who have, if they don’t have one, we have a CDL, we’ll train them to get that CDL license,” Roberts said.

This alone can save people money, because getting your commercial driver’s license can be expensive.

Residents can see for themselves the impact of a staffing shortage. Utilities manager Dave Mayes says without the staff, projects will take longer to complete.

“If we just don’t have enough staff, it will mean that something we need to do will stay on the list for longer. And we have a long list of things like repairing the drain pipes, repairing the pavement on the street, these issues will remain issues for much longer if we don’t get more staff to do this work,” a- he declared.

In the meantime, the city is getting creative and leveraging new technologies to hopefully meet the demand for services. For example, a remote-controlled lawn mower can help relieve some of the pressure.

“It can be operated by one person, they can stay at a safe distance and not on a sloping ditch bank or on a creek bank as you said, so it still requires people, but it’s a much safer operation for sure,” Mayes said. .

Wilmington is hosting a job fair Wednesday at Legion Stadium from 9 a.m. to noon with dozens of job openings.

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