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Answer:The labor pool does not have the critical skills needed by today’s employers. The labor is there; however, it just isn’t trained yet. Conversely, small businesses are creating community partnerships that help potential workers improve skills.

Fast-track technology businesses have formed regional alliances with colleges and training centers to combat the feared shortage of information technology (IT) professionals. The programs help improve access to skilled information-systems professionals and train their existing employees. Some firms are digging deeper into the student ranks to attract future IT employees by bringing in college freshman and high school students as interns and job shadows. Chambers of Commerce can help connect you to local programs.

Apprenticeships focus on teaching technical know-how, from programming to basic computer use, to manufacturing and manually oriented industries, like plumbing or masonry. Check with local technical or trade schools, or the Unemployment Office for more information.

The Welfare to Work Partnership has put 410,000 people to work, and small businesses are a big part of it. When you hire welfare recipients, your business receives up to $8,500 per employee in federal tax credits and support to help screen, hire and train the workers with little or no cost. For more information, contact 888-USA-JOB1 or visit www.welfaretowork.org.

Writer: Kimberly Stans

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