Colleges, universities across Northeast Ohio face staffing shortages

Colleges, universities across Northeast Ohio face staffing shortages.png
Posted at 6:21 AM, Dec 01, 2021

CLEVELAND — Right now, industries all across Northeast Ohio are on the hunt for employees to fill open positions. Local colleges and universities are no exception.

Officials with local higher education institutions said they're struggling to fill several open positions on campus - including both full and part-time positions.

“Baldwin Wallace doesn’t live in a bubble. We’re experiencing the same thing the rest of the community is experiencing," said Jeremy Short. "We are finding that people are not necessarily moving rapidly into these roles. They’re not jumping as quickly as they used to in these roles and we’re trying to respond as best we can in the climate we’re in at the moment.”

Short is Baldwin Wallace University's Chief Talent Officer. He said the two largest areas of need are in dining services and grounds and maintenance. But added, the university has open positions across campus, including for adjunct professors.

“We’re just not seeing folks come through the door," said Chuck Fairchild. "We're looking for front-line workers, back of the house staff, kitchen staff, servers, everything."

Fairchild is the university's senior director of dining and auxiliary services. He said many of his current staff members are working overtime and picking up extra shifts to fill the void. He said usually dining services employs about 80 students but currently this semester they only have around 30.

“It’s been stressful," he said.

Short said BW is determined to stay competitive in the hot job market. The university recently hired a compensation consultant to examine hundreds of positions across campus and their pay.

“To say, how competitive are we? Where do we need to respond? Do we need to be offering an incentive, a hiring incentive of any sort? We're currently not there at the moment but those are the kinds of moves we're looking at," Short said.

Initial results from the consultant should come back next week. But ahead of that, BW has already made changes, like increasing rates for some positions on campus, including dining services.

Another offer they're putting at the forefront to get new hires in the door is tuition reimbursement. Last fall, BWU changed its tuition reimbursement policy. It now offers all full-time employees 100% tuition remission for employees and their immediate family members. Part-time employees can receive a prorated benefit towards the tuition remission program.

Short said they're now working to target recent high school grads, giving them the opportunity to work full-time while receiving a free education.

"People who may not be able to afford college. They can come here. We can work around their schedules," he said. "It's an exciting opportunity for us and we're trying to capitalize on that group."

Community colleges, like Cuyahoga Community College, is also feeling the impact.

“We're having difficulty filling full time and part-time positions in specific areas," Kimberly Moss, manager of talent acquisition in human resources for Tri-C.

Moss said it's been tough to hire new employees when other industries are in need as well.

“It’s been difficult filling the positions because job seekers are being interviewed and have many opportunities for job offers with a number of employers in our in our market," Moss said.

To help with the recruitment of new employees, they’ve launched new flex options.

"The pilot flex program offers eligible employees an opportunity to request an alternative work schedule different from normal business hours or a compressed work week," Moss said. "We believe that having flexibility in the workplace will have a positive effect on the recruitment retention morale engagement and productivity of our employees."

Many colleges offer tuition reimbursement or assistance for employees, check with each higher institution for their policy.